PEN Hong Kong is deeply concerned by the threatening, anonymous letters that have been sent to Hong Kong Free Press, a Hong Kong-based independent news media outlet.
While the anonymous letters, which have been received between August and September, appear on a cursory look to be the work of one or more disturbed individuals and not linked to a specific political organisation, we take this type of intimidation seriously. We are pleased to note that the Hong Kong Police’s Criminal Investigation Department has launched a full investigation.
We would like to express our utmost solidarity for Hong Kong Free Press, its co-founder and editor-in-chief Tom Grundy and its staff. The letters in questions not only portray a mixture of ultra-nationalism and xenophobia, but have also gone so far as to compile a list of individuals that they claim should be “deported” for their non-Chinese ethnicity and for expressing views that do not agree with the author, or authors, of the threatening messages. One of these letters was even sent to Mr. Grundy’s family in the UK. This new letter makes explicit ad-hominem threats by warning Mr. Grundy to “tread carefully” or else “something” might happen to him.
Another letter was sent to the Hong Kong home of contributor Tim Hamlett.
In earlier letters, HKFP staff of Chinese descent had been accused of being “brainwashed” by foreigners, and exhorted to remember their Chinese blood and not write “negative” stories about Hong Kong and China.
Hong Kong upholds freedom of the press and freedom of expression, but the current divisions in society have escalated to the point that intimidation and threats are no longer unthinkable. We call on the Hong Kong Police to take these letters as grave infringements on the city’s ability to enjoy its stated freedoms, and to keep the public informed of the progress and findings of the investigations. We also call on the Hong Kong government to express its condemnation of threats of this kind, to reaffirm its commitment to free expression in Hong Kong, and to show support for those who have been affected by these cowardly acts.
PEN Hong Kong
9 October 2017