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Crime in Hong Kong

Police investigate threatening letters sent to Hong Kong news website

One of the letters, which warned of ‘major risks’ in politics, posted to chief editor’s family in the UK

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 October, 2017, 12:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 October, 2017, 5:56pm

Hong Kong police were on Thursday investigating a string of threatening letters sent to staff and contributors at an online news outlet, one of which was sent to the website’s co-founder’s family.

The letter was posted to the family of Tom Grundy, chief editor of the Hong Kong Free Press, in the UK. It warned of “major risks” in politics.

“I am slightly concerned that Tom has taken to a path that has become unsavoury and unhelpful to the some of the people of Hong Kong (sic),” the letter read. “However, in politics, when one does not know one’s enemies clearly, one could get hurt.”

“I and many people would really regret if something happened to Tom in the next few years,” it added.

A police spokeswoman said officers were investigating and no one had been arrested.

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“The police takes the case very seriously and will conduct a comprehensive investigation,” she said.

Grundy said the English-language outlet first received an anonymous letter addressed to current and former staff members at the end of August.

The letter accused them of following “the brainwashing through the distortion by foreigners of your mind”.

Grundy said the outlet found the letter “quite laughable” and ignored it. But then such letters came every week, with increasing seriousness.

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One letter was sent to the home of the outlet’s guest editor Tim Hamlett last week. Enclosed were mock Interpol “wanted” leaflets, with mugshots of Grundy, Hamlett and contributor Kent Ewing.

Another letter featured a list of 50 non-Chinese names, including the names of some pro-democracy activists and the outlet’s contributors.

I don’t think it will affect our reporting in the slightest. We will continue as usual
Tom Grundy, chief editor

“The following foreigners have been deemed guilty of spreading hatred and dividing Hong Kong, China society,” the letter read. “The punishment shall be mandated as of January 2018. Expulsion from Chinese territory. A list will be sent to immigration staff.”

Grundy said the organisation had handed all the envelopes and letters to police.

He said it had also involved lawmakers, lawyers and local and international journalism watchdogs, in light of the threat.

“We’ve acted very strongly,” he said. “I don’t think it will affect our reporting in the slightest. We will continue as usual.”

Hong Kong Free Press was launched in 2015 after raising HK$600,000 in a crowdfunding campaign.

Hong Kong Nonprofit Journal, a current affairs commentators’ group, said it was “shocked and concerned” about the threatening letters and urged the police to investigate thoroughly and protect the outlet’s staff members if necessary.

“The journal strongly condemns the person or organisation who issued the threatening letters,” it said. “Such an act threatening the safety of journalists and their family members has breached the bottom line of the law and civilisation.”