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Thursday, 23 August, 2001, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Gang attacks Taiwan tabloid
Police remove evidence from Next Magazine offices
Police say the attack may have been a 'warning'
By Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong

A gang armed with baseball bats has attacked offices of Taiwan's highly popular, but controversial news magazines, Next Taiwan.

Computers and other equipment worth several thousand dollars were destroyed in the attack in the capital, Taipei.


The magazine is controversial - at least 100 celebrities signed a petition vowing to boycott it after its exposes bruised their egos

Next magazine, which specialises in exposes of celebrities, politicians and criminals, has shaken up the island's media scene since it began publishing in June.

In three short months it has become wildly popular, but has struck fear into the hearts of the island's rich, famous and even the infamous.

Police in Taipei said the attack was probably a warning from local gangsters angered at seeing their pictures in the magazine.

Wildly popular

Despite achieving a record-breaking circulation, Next is already facing at least three lawsuits for invasion of privacy.

On one occasion its reporters tried to sneak into the president's home to film his daughter's wedding.

Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong tycoon known for bringing paparazzi-style reporting to the former colony and thumbing his nose at Beijing, has despatched his teams of photographers to spy on the secret lives of Taiwan's pop stars and politicians, celebrities and gangsters.

Next Taiwan has photographed meetings of gang leaders, a politician said to own massage parlours, and affairs and drug-taking among television stars and singers.

Revenge?

Now someone - possibly an unhappy gangster - has struck back.

The magazine's editor Pei Wei said it would continue its task, which he described as revealing the truth.

But the magazine is controversial. At least 100 celebrities signed a petition vowing to boycott it after its exposes bruised their egos.

They called on the government to take action, but officials said freedom of speech was paramount and there was no reason to stop publication.

In July there were even reports in Taiwan's press that Jimmy Lai had been kidnapped by local gangsters and freed after a ransom was paid. He denied the claims.

But despite the opposition it has aroused, Next looks like it will keep on ruffling feathers and flying off newsagents shelves.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong
"According to police it was probably a warning"
See also:

12 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan deputy launches libel case
24 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan lifts China media ban
06 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Taiwan
03 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Taiwan
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