This morning, popular Chinese-language news service Apple Daily’s website was attacked by hackers and rendered inaccessible. The distributed denial-of-service assault (DDoS) occurred at about 3:30am, and a statement was released later in the morning confirming the attack. Apple Daily continued posting news via social media although their website content remained offline. #appledaily618 and #supportappledaily quickly began trending on Hong Kong social media as more and more people share the story.
Apple Daily, published by Jimmy Lai’s Next Media, is well known for it’s uncompromising pro-democracy stance—something that’s earned it an unremitting stream of intimidation from the central government as well as pro-establishment thugs. In June last year, a car rammed into Lai’s home and an axe and a meat cleaver were left outside the front gate. In the same month, masked men violently seized distribution centres and burned bundles of the newspaper in two separate incidents, while just earlier this month two motorbikes were set alight outside their head offices. This week, New York Times reported that Hong Kong’s two major banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered, both withdrew advertising from Next Media under pressure from Beijing.
The website for an unofficial referendum on universal suffrage in Hong Kong planned for 20-22June also fell under cyber attack this week, and yesterday it was also revealed YouTube banned a pro-democracy advertisement for Hong Kong from airing on its website.
In what remains (for now) the only island of free expression on PRC soil, the media atmosphere is beginning increasingly tense, and the risks associated with criticizing Beijing are becoming increasingly high.
[Image via Facebook]
By Ryan Kilpatrick