Four journalist groups issued statements on April 13 condemning the armed attack on The Epoch Times’ printing presses in Hong Kong and called on authorities to bring the perpetrators and the planners of the attack to justice.
Four masked men wielding sledgehammers broke into the newspaper’s printing shop around 4 a.m. on April 12, smashed the central control panel of the printing press, and emptied a bag of construction debris on the equipment. The violent breach forced the newspaper to suspend printing days before local pro-democracy activists are due to appear in court.
“The violent attack on The Epoch Times’ printing plant in Hong Kong is another worrying example of violence faced by media outlets operating in the city,” Carlos Martinez de la Serna, the program director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement. “Hong Kong authorities must take action and bring those responsible for the attack on The Epoch Times, including its planners, to justice.”
Committee to Protect Journalists had previously documented an arson attack on The Epoch Times’ printing press in Hong Kong in 2019. The committee has tracked attacks on journalists around the world for four decades. It lists China among the top 10 most censored countries in the world. In a statement addressing the attack, The Epoch Times said it believes the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is behind the incident due to the newspaper’s stalwart coverage of the CCP’s abuses.
The Hong Kong branch of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club also condemned the attack and called for both the perpetrators and the planners to be brought to justice.
“The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong strongly condemns the attack on the Epoch Times’ printing presses and calls for the perpetrators to be brought swiftly to justice,” the group said in a statement. “The FCC insists that media should be able operate freely without fear of violence in Hong Kong regardless of their political stance.”
The FCC is one of the most prominent press clubs in the world, having operated for nearly eight decades. The club serves as a major media hub and its members have reported on the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests. The club had likewise condemned the 2019 attack on the printing press.
The Hong Kong Internet Journalist Association condemned the attack in a statement issued on April 12.
“The association strongly condemns acts of violence to maliciously target and intimidate the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times and all other journalists,” it wrote in a statement on Facebook.
Hong Kong’s press freedom has been on a steady decline since 2013, according to Hong Kong Journalists Association. The city’s press freedom index hit a record low of 41.9 points for the year 2019, a drop from 49.4 in 2013, according to the association.
Since the attack on the press on April 12, a number of prominent groups, lawmakers, and prominent figures have condemned the attacks and joined the call to arrest and prosecute those responsible. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack “appalling, but not unexpected” and called on the United States to send a message to the CCP that such attacks would not be tolerated. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) have also condemned the attack.
Eva Fu and Frank Fang contributed to this report.