Press freedom in Hong Kong

Police probe cyberattack claims of pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper

Pan-democratic lawmaker condemns ‘sinister’ acts while another urges police to treat matter seriously and uphold city’s press freedom

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 12:07am

Hong Kong police are investigating claims after Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News issued its second statement in four days, this time over a large amount of nuisance phone calls and virus-laden emails directed at certain employees.

This followed complaints on Tuesday that suspicious individuals were spotted hanging around its office building and stalking its staff.

Sing Pao once again called the series of incidents political intimidation against its recent front-page commentaries regarding the city’s chief executive race next month.

“We suspect certain people intend to force us to stop publishing commentaries that drew widespread interest in an attempt to manipulate the [chief executive] election results,” the statement said. It also urged the central government to restore Hongkongers’ faith in “one country, two systems”.

“Since 10am [Friday] our website and company network have been subject to endless DDoS attacks,” a Friday statement read. The website remained inaccessible for most of the day; services resumed at around 11pm.

The statement also claimed a number of staff had been receiving anonymous calls “every one to two minutes, while their private email accounts were flooded with emails embedded with a Trojan virus”.

State media Xinhua repeats news of Sing Pao chief embroiled in alleged illegal funds scandal

Police were treating the case as one of “access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent”. It was being handled by the Kwun Tong regional crime unit.

Our website and company network have been subject to endless DDoS attacks
Sing Pao Daily News

The Civic Party condemned the acts, calling them “sinister”. Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun urged police and the government to treat the matter seriously and uphold Hong Kong’s press freedom.

The long-time pro-establishment newspaper raised eyebrows last year when it began running critical articles about Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong.

Recently it has been accusing the liaison office of interfering in Hong Kong’s leadership contest, often blasting the office’s perceived support for the city’s former No 2 official, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Critics believe Sing Pao’s change of tone is the result of fissures within the Beijing leadership.