Egypt: Pro Mubarak forces turn on journalists

Supporters of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak have begun violently attacking journalists reporting on the streets of Cairo today, the Committee to Protect Journalists has warned.

The Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the US group, Mohamed Abdel Dayem, said: ‘The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions.

“The government has resorted to blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs. The situation is frightening not only because our colleagues are suffering abuse but because when the press is kept from reporting, we lose an independent source of crucial information.”

According to the CPJ, the following incidents have taken place:

  • Ahmed Bajano, an Al-Arabiya correspondent in Cairo, was beaten while covering a pro-Mubarak demonstration, according to news reports. Bajano and his camera crew were attacked in Mustafa Mahmoud Square by men in plainclothes. Al-Arabiya’s Cairo office was attacked and its windows broken, the satellite station reported.
  • A group of men described as ‘plainclothes police” attacked the headquarters of the independent daily Al-Shorouk in Cairo today, the paper reported. Reporter Mohamed Khayal and photographer Magdi Ibrahim were injured. Ibrahim’s camera was smashed
  • Men in plainclothes surrounded the office of Sawsan Abu Hussein, deputy editor of the Egyptian magazine October, after she called in to a television program to report on violence against protesters, Abu Hussein said on Al-Jazeera
  • Police arrested four Israeli journalists for allegedly violating the curfew in Cairo and for entering the country on tourist visas, according to news reports.
  • Belgian journalist Maurice Sarfatti was beaten and arrested today while he was on assignment in the Shubra neighborhood in central Cairo, according a statement from Le Soir.
  • CNN’s Anderson Cooper and his crew were attacked by pro-Mubarak supporters in Tahrir Square yesterday.
  • Two unnamed Associated Press correspondents were roughed up while covering a pro-Mubarak gathering, AP reported.
  • Danish media reported that Danish senior Middle East Correspondent Steffen Jensen was beaten today by pro-Mubarak supporters with clubs while reporting live on the phone to Danish TV2 News from Cairo. The attackers demanded his phone and passport. Jensen said he is currently being held by soldiers in Tahrir Square.
  • The BBC reported that its correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes’ car was forced off the road in Cairo “by a group of angry men.” He has detained by the men, who handed him over to secret police agents who handcuffed and blindfolded him and an unnamed colleague and took them to an interrogation room. They were released after three hours.
  • Jon Bjorgvinsson, a correspondent for RUV, Iceland’s national broadcaster, but on assignment for Swiss television in Cairo, was attacked on Tuesday as he and a crew were filming. The journalist and his team were apparently accused of being foreign spies, according to Icelandic news website Ice News.
  • Al-Jazeera continues to face pressure from the government-owned Nilesat satellite provider. The network reported that it will take legal actions against Nilesat’s management and that the station will demand compensation for the blockage of its signal.
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