Journalists are still being targeted as clashes continue in the streets around Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Although the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has promised to bring forward the handover to a civilian government, the demonstrators are demanding the immediate departure of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and his transition government.
The chaos prevailing in Cairo and the resulting grave human rights violations are as bad as in the darkest hours of the revolution’s earlier phase, in January and February. Journalists are now the unwanted witnesses of the army’s desperate attempts to hold on to power and Reporters Without Borders fears that the abuses against media personnel could worsen.
US documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim and her cameraman, Magdy Ashour, were arrested near Tahrir Square yesterday and are due to be brought before a military tribunal shortly. Reporters Without Borders calls for their immediate release and the withdrawal of the charges against them.
Arrested during the night of 23 November near Mohamed Mahmoud Street (itself near Tahrir Square), Egyptian-American blogger Mona Eltahawy was released after being held for 12 hours. On Twitter, she reported that interior ministry officials were mistreating detainees and that she personally was manhandled and sexually assaulted (repeatedly “groped”) by policemen (http://twitter.com/#!/monaeltahawy).
The Egyptian blogger Maged Butter was also released after being arrested during the night of 23 November.
Police arrested US documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim and her cameraman, Magdy Ashour, on Mansour Street at around 6 p.m. and seized their equipment. The two journalists, who were covering clashes near the interior ministry at the time of their arrest, are due to be taken before a military court soon. It is not known what exactly they are charged with (http://twitter.com/#!/search/FreeJehane?q=FreeJehane).
Freelance Spanish photographer Guillem Valle, on assigment for The Wall Street Journal, was attacked and beaten by plainclothes policemen while photographing a building on fire and had to be hospitalized.
Ibrahim Mohamed Shareef, a reporter for the Kurdish news agency PUKmedia, was slightly injured while covering clashes in Tahrir Square.
Reporters Without Borders would like to correct the information it gave in a previous release about Dana Smilie’s 22 November arrest. Smilie (http://www.danasmillie.com/#/bio), who works for Finnish TV, was arrested by military police in the Cairo district of Moqattam together with the station’s Cairo correspondent, their Egyptian interpreter and their taxi driver while filming election posters. After being taken to an army building, they were briefly questioned and then released. Their equipment was returned to them.
Photo: Gaël FAVARI
Journalists arrested, physically attacked by security forces
Journalists have been among the targets of the security forces during clashes in Cairo and other cities since 19 November as demonstrators demand civilian institutions and the dissolution of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Reporters have been roughed up and briefly detained, and their equipment has been confiscated or destroyed.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the attacks on all civilians including journalists, who are particularly exposed because of the nature of their work.
Partial list of attacks and abuses against journalists during past four days
The photographer Dana Smilie (http://www.danasmillie.com/#/bio) was arrested in Cairo, taken to an army building, transferred to another one, and was interrogated for five hours before she was finally released.
A Finnish TV crew was held arrested while doing a report in the Cairo district of Moqattam and was held for five hours. Its equipment was confiscated.
Malek Mostafa (@malek) sustained an injury to the left eye that had to be operated on.
Maher Iskandar, a photographer with the daily Youm7, was injured in the leg while filming clashes in Tahrir Square.
The Journalists’ Syndicate condemns attacks on journalists working for five news media including Al-Akhbar, El-Shorouk, El-Tahrir and the government news agency MENA. The syndicate said: “A journalist was arrested and forced to undress. He was beaten with a stick and insulted. All of his money was stolen.”
Ahmed Abdelfatah, a photographer with the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, sustained a serious eye injury while covering demonstrations in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, near Tahrir Square. He was taken to the international eye hospital in Giza, where he is to undergo an operation
Mohamed Kamel of Al-Masry Al-Youm also sustained a head injury as a result of being hit by a rubber bullet. An ambulance took him to a hospital. Two other photographers with the same newspaper, Abanub Amad and Tarek Wageeh, were roughed up by the police.
Omar Al-Zuhairi, a photographer with the independent daily Al-Tahrir, sustained a head injury during clashes. Mo’taz Zaki, a photographer with the same newspaper, was briefly detained. Both were covering clashes in Tahrir Square.
Rasha Azab of the independent newspaper Al-Fagr, Mahmoud Al-Hefnaoui of Youm7, Amr Gamal of the Al-Hurriya wa Al-Adala website and freelancer Saad Abid were also harassed or briefly detained. Gamal was held for several hours.
Sarhan Sanara of the government daily Al-Akhbar was arrested while covering a demonstration and was held for seven hours, during which he was mistreated and beaten several times by police officers.
The police also arrested Ahmad Tarek of MENA, Al-Tahrir photographer Ahmad Ramadan, the independent daily Al-Shuruq’s editor, Mohamed Fouad, Al-Shuruq reporter Essam Amer and Al-Shuruq photographer Rafi Shaker.
Yehia Faheem, a cameraman with the CNC production company, and Haitham Gala, his soundman, were both injured by rubber bullets while trying to covering the demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Ahmed Feteha, a reporter for the Ahram Online website, was hit while trying to cover clashes.
Internet slowdown – prelude to second Internet blackout?
Rumours are circulating online that the Internet is going to be disconnected again, as it was on 25 January. It is still functioning but Reporters Without Borders has been told that connection speeds have slowed down several times, when demonstrations were taking place. Online access via smartphone services including Vodafone is also reportedly limited.