14 February 2006

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the assault committed on Yuan Li, a journalist with the daily The Epoch Times, at his home in Atlanta on February 8, 2006. The organization is also intrigued by the circumstances under which the attack occurred.

"Would Yuan Li have been beaten and robbed as he was if he had not been a member of The Epoch Times' editorial staff? Not if the circumstances surrounding the crime are any indication. In addition, the ties between the daily and the Falun Gong spiritual movement, one of the Beijing regime's pet peeves, are well known. The involvement of the Chinese authorities in this case - which remains to be proven - would be a sign that dissident journalists are no longer safe, even in exile," Reporters Without Borders stated.

At about noon on February 8, a stranger rang the front door bell at Yuan Li's home in a residential area of Atlanta. "He claimed to be there to deliver water, but I had not ordered any. Just as I opened the door to let him in, another man burst into the doorway and broke the door down," the journalist explained to Reporters Without Borders. The two thugs, one armed with a knife, the other with a revolver, attacked their victim and beat him up. "They tried to suffocate me with a quilt. After that, they hit me and then slashed at my face with a knife," continued Yuan Li, whose face is covered with at least fifteen cuts.

According to the victim, two other individuals then entered his apartment. "They were speaking Korean, but one of them asked me in Chinese where my safe was. I saw only three of my four assailants, and they were all Asians." The thugs left after about thirty minutes, taking with them two computers, a hard disk a telephone and Yuan Li's briefcase. When he came to, still groggy, he went outside. A neighbor noticed him and called the police.

"I obviously do not have any direct proof that they were Chinese agents," the journalist admitted. "But they acted in broad daylight and took only computer equipment. That's troubling." Dana Cheng, Vice-President of The Epoch Times, is much more categorical. She told Reporters Without Borders, "Every single day, we denounce the activities of the Chinese regime. Many people - even in China - manage to connect to our website, despite the authorities' attempts to block the Internet. The regime fears us. It wants to silence us."

The FBI will be heading the investigation into Yuan Li's assault. According to The Epoch Times, letter bombs have recently been mailed to its Sydney and Toronto offices.