Unidentified assailants launched Molotov cocktails at the headquarters of one of Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy media outlets, Next Media, and at the home of its founder, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, early this morning.
Next Media said that two entries to its headquarters in the Tseung Kwan O district were hit at around 1:00 a.m. Video footage from Lai’s home in the Ho Man Tin neighborhood also shows a vehicle pulling up at around 1:30 a.m., just before a masked person exits the car, hurls a flaming object at the front gates and speeds off. Two cars believed to have been used in the attacks were found torched in Kowloon with the license plates removed, according to SCMP.
Mark Simon, an aide to Lai, told the New York Times that the firebombs were an “attack on dissident voices”. “It’s just extremely disappointing that basically the only thing they got left is violence; that’s the case being made against peaceful democracy and civil disobedience,” he added.
Lai had stepped down as chairman of Next Media and Apple Daily in December. The long-time Beijing critic was arrested around the same time, during the clearance of one of the main pro-democracy protest sites in Admiralty. Lai and Apple Daily were outspokenly supportive of protestors who for two months occupied the city’s streets demanding open nominations in the 2016 election for a new chief executive.
This isn’t the first time Next Media or its founder have been targeted in an attack. In 2013, a man crashed a stolen vehicle into the gate of Lai’s home and left a knife and hatchet at the scene. Two weeks later, masked men intercepted an Apple Daily delivery van and set fire to bundles of the newspaper.
In an e-mail response to Bloomberg about the latest attacks against him and his company, Lai brushed the ordeal off as being “just a small nuisance”.
[Video via YouTube]