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Masked men attack Hong Kong online media outlet known for independent reporting

(IFJ/IFEX) - August 13, 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by two separate attacks on media which occurred in Hong Kong and Mainland China last week.

According to reports received by the IFJ, four masked men entered the office of Hong Kong news outlet Inmedia and smashed three computers, a television and chairs on August 8. Chu Hoi-Dik, Chairman of Inmedia, told the IFJ that the perpetrators were highly organised and 'professional', having convinced employees of the media company to provide them with the office street address. When they arrived, they reportedly told two interns to move aside saying "We will leave when we finish."

Chu said he believed that the incident was an attack on freedom of speech. The media outlet had not received any threats preceding the attack, he added.

Inmedia is an online-only media outlet established in 2004 and run by a group of former journalists and activists. It is known for its independent reporting on issues such as local Government, social justice and politics.

Inmedia was recently found liable in a defamation case by the High Court of Hong Kong, and has been ordered to pay compensation to the plaintiff - Hong Kong based press group Oriental Daily.

In a separate incident, on August 10, a cameraman for Hong Kong-based Asia Television, was reportedly attacked by a number of plain-clothed policemen in Mainland China, as he attempted to report on the alleged police cover up related to the high profile case of Chinese politician Bo Xilai's wife Gu Kailai, who has been charged with the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

According to Hong Kong media reports, the cameraman was blocked by a group of people preventing him from filming a protestor outside the court. The attack left the cameraman with injuries. It was reported that a number of uniformed policemen witnessed the attack, but failed, or refused to stop it.

IFJ affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HJKA), and other media associations have condemned the brutal attack on the cameraman.

During Gu Kailai's trial, overseas and Hong Kong media were prevented from getting close to the courtroom, and the Central Propaganda Department ordered that only Xinhua's articles on the trial be republished, effectively placing a ban on independent reporting by the Mainland media. Microblog messages regarding the case were censored.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying reportedly asked the Hong Kong Bureau in Shanghai to follow up the attack on the cameraman, and demand the government of Anhui to investigate the incident.

"We urge Leung Chun-Ying to ensure that the authorities investigate these incidents and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice" said the IFJ Asia Pacific office.

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