The CPJ has collected and confirmed reports of attacks on journalists in Cairo:
New York, February 3, 2011—Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak unleashed an unprecedented and systematic attack on international media today as his supporters assaulted reporters in the streets while security forces began obstructing and detaining journalists covering the unrest that threatens to topple his government.
“This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The systematic and sustained attacks documented by CPJ leave no doubt that a government-orchestrated effort to target the media and suppress the news is well under way. With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world’s worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cuba.
“We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented action,” said Simon, “and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately.”
Here is a round-up of attacks on the press:
· The Washington Post told CPJ that they have heard from multiple witnesses that the paper’s Cairo bureau chief, Leila Fadel, and Linda Davidson, a photographer, were among a number of journalists detained this morning. Their status was unclear late today.
· The New York Times reported today that two of its reporters were released after they were detained overnight in Cairo.
· Canadian Globe and Mail journalist Sonia Verma tweeted that she was being taken “into some kind of custody.” She later reported that she was held by the military for three hours.
· CNN-IBN reported that video journalist Rajesh Bharadwajm was “taken away” from Tahrir Square by military forces. Bharadwajm’s status was not immediately clear.
· Government officials, pro-government journalists, and commentators loyal to Mubarak have for the past two days been engaged in a systematic campaign to present foreigners, and particularly foreign journalists, as spies. CPJ has documented at least seven instances on state-owned television or on private stations owned by businessmen loyal to Mubarak in which individuals described elaborate foreign plots to destabilize Egypt that centered on foreign provocateurs, including journalists. In several instances, they were described as “Israeli spies.” In one instance, a woman whose face was obscured “confessed” to having been trained by “Americans and Israelis.” She went on to say that the alleged training took place in Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based.
· Mubarak supporters stormed Cairo’s Hilton Hotel searching for journalists, Al-Jazeera reported today. Journalists inside the hotel posted a Tumblr entry that said: “About 20 foreign journalists are currently holed up.” No injuries were immediately reported, but the journalists’ status was unclear.
· Dima Salem, a reporter for Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television, was attacked by pro-Mubarak supporters who took her cameraman’s equipment and tried to beat her. Witnesses helped them escape, Al-Arabiya reported on the air.
· Two Al-Jazeera English journalists were attacked by Mubarak supporters, the Qatar-based satellite station reported on the air. Three other network reporters were detained in Cairo, the station reported. No names were given.
· At least four Spanish journalists were attacked in Cairo, according to news reports. Joan Roura, a correspondent for TV3, a Catalan public television station, was attacked by men who tried to steal his mobile phone while he was conducting a live broadcast for the 24 hours news channel. Assaults were also reported against Sal Emergui, a correspondent for Catalan radio RAC1; Gemma Saura, a correspondent for the newspaper La Vanguardia; and Mikel Ayestaran, a correspondent for the newspaper Vocento/ABC.
· Several Turkish journalists were attacked by Mubarak supporters, according to news reports. Cumali Önal of Cihan News Agency and Doğan Ertuğrul of the Turkish Star Daily were attacked and beaten by pro-Mubarak supporters on Wednesday. Both were in stable condition today.
· Men with knives seized Erol Candabakoğlu, a Turkish Fox TV reporter, along with his unidentified cameraman and driver on Wednesday while they were filming in the Boulaq neighborhood of Cairo, according to news reports. The Turkish news agency Anatolia reported that Egyptian police later freed them.
· Metin Turan, a reporter for the Turkish state-run TRT channel, was assaulted today and beaten by Mubarak supporters, who seized his camera, money, and cell phone, according to the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman. The reporter escaped and sought refuge at the Turkish Embassy; embassy officials told the paper they would take Turan to the hospital because he suffered from wounds and bruises. Isa Simsek, a photographer for Today’s Zaman, was also assaulted today by a Mubarak supporter, according to news reports.
· Popular Egyptian blogger Mahmoud (aka “Sandmonkey”) tweeted “ I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated, my car ripped apar& supplies taken.” He said he was briefly detained.
· The British-based communications company Vodafone accused the Egyptian government of hijacking its text messaging services and sending out text messages supportive of Mubarak, according to news reports.
· Multiple journalists for state-owned or government-aligned media have resigned or have refused to work after the government put pressure on them to sanitize the news or to not report on violence against demonstrators, several CPJ sources said. Shahira Amin, an anchor on the state-owned Nile TV channel, said on the air: “I refuse to be a hypocrite. I feel liberated.”