Hong Kong newspaper executives attacked amid growing free press fears

Staff of Ming Pao hold up reports on Kevin Lau's February stabbing. Less than a month later, fresh attacks on journalists occur.

Story highlights

  • Two newspaper executives attacked in broad daylight in city
  • It is the second brutal assault on media in one month
  • Concerns raised over increasing threat to press freedom

Two senior executives of a yet to be launched newspaper in Hong Kong were attacked in broad daylight Wednesday, sparking fresh concerns about press freedom in the city.

The incident comes less than a month after a Hong Kong journalist was hospitalized after being wounded by a knife-wielding assailant.

Four men carrying metal pipes attacked the two executives as they took their lunch break outside the Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui, a major tourist landmark in the city, police confirmed to CNN. A 30-year-old man was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the case.

The victims were identified as Lei Lun-han, aged 46, vice president and director of Hong Kong Morning News Media Group Ltd, and the company's senior executive Lam Kin-ming, aged 54. The group will launch a news publication later this year.

Both men were treated for injuries at hospital and have since been discharged.

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Kevin Lau, the former chief editor of Ming Pao, was attacked with a cleaver as he walked to his car last month. Two men have been charged with wounding him. He remains in hospital.

Lau had previously been removed from his post at Ming Pao, a local Hong Kong newspaper known for its hard-hitting reporting on China. His sacking sparked a protest by colleagues.

    Just days before the assault on Lau, thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets to demonstrate against what they see as rapidly escalating efforts by China's Communist Party to control Hong Kong's media.

    Journalists feel 'threat'

    Shirley Yam, the vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, told CNN she sees a clear connection between the attacks and the nature of the victim's professions.

    "They are the key persons of the paper and they were attacked at the same time," she said. "Both assault cases are connected to the victims' jobs."

    She described the attacks as "a threat" to press freedom.

    According to a statement from the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club, the Hong Kong Morning News was formed by veteran journalists and is locally funded with no links to the Chinese mainland.

    "This latest incident only underscores the deepening shadows being cast over the media landscape in Hong Kong from violence, intimidation and interference by political and commercial interests," the FCC statement added.

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