Physical assaults and cyber attacks are part of the “increasing risk” to media in Hong Kong, a city that prides itself on free expression compared with strict censorship in mainland China, a report said Friday.

Published by US literary and human rights group PEN American Center, the report comes as tensions remain high after more than two months of mass protests for fully free leadership elections ended in December with no concessions on reform.

“Some of the most independent journalists and media outlets in Hong Kong are now operating in an increasingly unfriendly environment, constricting their ability to investigate and freely cover the news,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN American Center, who presented the report at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong.

“The confluence of attacks — economic, physical, and cyber — on press and media outlets in Hong Kong, coinciding with a period of political turmoil, drives suspicion about the future of press freedom in this crucial media hub.”

A British colony until 1997, Hong Kong is ruled under a “one country, two systems” deal that allows it far greater civil liberties than those enjoyed on the Chinese mainland, including freedom of speech and the right to protest.

But there are increasing fears in the city over the growing influence of Beijing and the erosion of long-held freedoms.

A number of high-profile media figures have been attacked, with the latest incident occurring on Monday when the home and office of pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai were firebombed. Lai and his outspoken newspaper Apple Daily have been repeatedly targeted.

The former editor of liberal newspaper Ming Pao, Kevin Lau, is still recovering after being attacked with a cleaver in the street in broad daylight last February.

City leader Leung Chun-ying also sparked anger when he singled out a student magazine for advocating independence from China during a major policy address on Wednesday.

That incident was included as a last-minute addition to the report, said Nossel.

“We think it’s time for a direct lens to be trained on Hong Kong,” she added.

“Hong Kong is in a very unique — and we think somewhat perilous — situation and warrants a heightened level of attention and scrutiny to try to make sure this pattern does not intensify.”

The report, entitled “Threatened Harbor: Encroachments on press freedom in Hong Kong”, also highlighted threats to freedom of expression online including large-scale cyber attacks on the Apple Daily and a pro-democracy poll.

Self-censorship and the removal of personnel for apparently politically motivated reasons was also a concern, along with “economic pressures” including the removal of advertising by major banks from the Apple Daily.

The report urged the Hong Kong government to take a number of measures including prompt and thorough investigations into all reported attacks and proper police training on the rights of media at protests.