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Hong Kong 2 March 2006

Criminals target the daily Epoch Times

Four unidentified men targeted the offices of the daily Epoch Times in Hong Kong, smashing a printing press with a hammer before fleeing, on the evening of 28 February 2006.

“Once again, the daily Epoch Times is the target of vandalism in very disturbing circumstances,” said Reporters Without Borders.

“Following a recent attack on a technician working for the daily in the United States, this confirms that those who are unhappy about the activities of the Epoch Times are ready to use criminal methods,” said the press freedom organisation.

Spokesperson for the paper in Hong Kong, Cheryl Ng, told Reporters Without Borders, “The assailants spoke Cantonese and I believe they were local thugs recruited by the Chinese Communist Party.”

“Police arrived 20 minutes afterwards but have made no progress in their investigation (...) several of our colleagues receive regular threats on the phone. It is often warnings against the Falungong“, she said.

The four thugs had got into the office after smashing its glass doors. Members of staff who were present were ordered not to move. One of them was threatened when he tried to pick up a phone to call the police.

The men fled immediately after taking a hammer to a specialised printer that allows the computerisation of the newspaper’s pages. At the sight of the printer, one of the raiders exclaimed, “There it is”. They did not damage any other equipment.

The newspaper had just bought the new printer, since over the past year it had failed to sign a contract with any printer and had been forced to make arrangements to print from day to day, which held up its distribution.

“None of the print shops would come out and say the Communist Party had put pressure on them to refuse our business. But why would they refuse perfectly good business?”, asked Cheryl Ng. “Despite the loss of this machine, we managed to get the Epoch Times published in Hong Kong” she added.

It is not the first time that Epoch times has been targeted for attack. On 8 February 2006, journalist Li Yuan was assaulted in his home in Atlanta, United States. The raiders left after half an hour taking two computers, a hard disc, a telephone and his wallet. That investigation is in the hands of the FBI. The Epoch Times, said that letter bombs had recently been sent to its offices in Sydney.

“Police in Hong Kong must identify and arrest those who carried out this attack and those who instigated it,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The credibility of the Hong Kong authorities demands that all media, even the most critical of Beijing, should be allowed to publish in peace Hong Kong”, it added.

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