A female reporter from the Apple Daily and her sister were attacked by four masked men while they were having dinner on Tuesday night. Both had to be treated at a hospital after the assaults.
The case comes after pro-democracy lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu was attacked in broad daylight on the same day by men wearing facemasks.
According to the pro-democracy newspaper, the reporter left her office in Tseung Kwan O in the New Territories at 7pm and went to meet her sister for dinner in Sau Mau Ping in Kowloon.
Soon after they sat down in a restaurant, four men dressed in black, wearing yellow helmets and facemasks, rushed into the restaurant and kicked and punched the women for half a minute.
The men shouted at the women: “Ask your boss Fat Lai (Jimmy Lai Chee-ying) to pay back the money.” They then ran away.
The reporter suffered injuries to her ear, head and arm, as well as having hearing problems and a headache. Her sister had swelling to her left eye.
The women reported the assault to police and were sent to a hospital for treatment.
An online video captured the four culprits wandering through a public housing estate before the attack, news website HK01.com reported.
The newspaper said the injured journalist has been doing live-streaming and newspaper reports on the anti-extradition bill protests and her story carried her byline, or name, and it was suspected the men had been stalking her.
She had also received a number of suspicious phone calls since last Friday. In one of the calls, a man called her name and when she replied, he hung up immediately. She received two anonymous calls on Tuesday morning, but did not answer the phone.
Police classed the case as assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but no suspects have been arrested so far.
Apple Daily founder and democracy supporter Jimmy Lai had been targeted by the state media and pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong over his publication’s extensive coverage of the months-long protests.
Publisher Cheung Kim-hung condemned the attack and urged the police to investigate the case in a serious manner. He said he hoped the culprits would be caught promptly.
Cheung said the newspaper opposed authoritarianism and was not afraid of violence. They will keep defending the freedom of the press and will speak out for Hong Kong people, he said.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association also condemned the attack. They said they were concerned the incident was an attack against press freedom and freedom of speech in Hong Kong with the aim of silencing reporters. The association urged the police to investigate the case thoroughly and not to let Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the safest cities in the world be tarnished.
Meanwhile, personal information, including photos and social media accounts of dozens of Apple Daily staff, pro-democracy activists and protesters were posted on a website which was registered in Russia in early September.
The newspaper had obtained an interim injunction order from the court last week to restrain people from disclosing any personal information of their staff. The website was inaccessible on Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong was punched and kicked by three masked men in Tin Shui Wai, the New Territories.
A video surfaced on social media capturing the assault. It clearly showed that Kwong was pulled out of his car and attacked by three men with facemasks and caps on. One of the culprits dressed in black was filming the process.
Kwong and his party mate had received threatening letters a month ago.
Democratic Party condemned the attack, saying it was clearly an organized attack aimed at silencing those who have shown support for the ongoing anti-government protests. But they said they would not be back down.