World outrage over attacks on reporters in Egypt



WASHINGTON, Joseph Krauss- The United States led a chorus of world outrage on Thursday as several international journalists were beaten or detained in a "systematic" attack by Egyptian regime loyalists.
Several major media outlets covering the clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square said their journalists had been stalked and attacked by supporters of embattled President Hosni Mubarak or detained by the military.



World outrage over attacks on reporters in Egypt
The Committee to Protect Journalists described an "unprecedented and systematic attack on international media."
"This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism," the US-based group's executive director Joel Simon said in a statement.
"Theft, violence, arbitrary arrests and extreme violence... the list of abuses against journalists by President Mubarak’s supporters is getting longer by the hour and they are clearly systematic and concerted," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-Francois Julliard said.
Correspondents, photographers and cameramen reporting on the fierce clashes that took place in Cairo said Mubarak supporters had turned on them on Wednesday and Thursday following a campaign by state-run and state-linked media accusing them of being spies.
Egyptian police meanwhile arrested foreigners working for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as other activists, in a raid on a human rights center in the capital.
"Egyptian state television has referred to foreign journalists as being responsible for what is happening," said Thierry Thuillier, head of news at France Televisions, the French public broadcaster.
"It's a kind of undisguised incitement to lynching," he said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly condemned the attacks on journalists, adding that the government and army had a "clear responsibility" to protect them and others.
UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called the attacks on journalists and human rights workers "outrageous and totally unacceptable," as Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain also released a joint statement condemning the violence.
BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reported that Egyptian secret police had handcuffed, blindfolded and interrogated him for three hours before releasing him.
Swedish public broadcaster SVT lost contact for several hours with one of its reporters covering the unrest in Cairo, only to find he had received serious "knife injuries" and was being operated on in a hospital.
Al-Jazeera, which has been targeted by Egyptian authorities for its round-the-clock coverage of the events, said pro-Mubarak demonstrators chased away one of its correspondents, calling him "a Jew" and "a dog".
On Wednesday, the Qatar-based station said police had detained six foreign journalists working for its English language service, holding them for several hours and confiscating their camera.
CNN star correspondent Anderson Cooper reported how he and his camera crew were attacked by Mubarak supporters just outside Tahrir Square.
"It was pandemonium," he said. "There was no control. Suddenly a man would come up to you and punch you in the face."
Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel said its correspondent Ahmed Abdullah had been severely beaten by Mubarak supporters, while Belgian daily Le Soir said its reporter Serge Dumont had been beaten up and then arrested.
Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere has called for Dumont's "immediate release."
Three journalists with France's BFM TV suffered a 15-minute beating from attackers using fists, boots and clubs, said the channel chief Guillaume Dubois. They were eventually rescued by a passing army convoy, he added.
Turkey's Anatolia news agency said Mubarak supporters on Thursday "severely" beat Metin Turan, a journalist for the public TRT broadcaster, and took his money, camera, photo camera and mobile phone.
Turan managed to escape and took refuge at the Turkish embassy.
Russia's foreign ministry said its diplomats had tracked down two correspondents for the Zvezda television station at a military counter-espionage centre.
"They had been arrested for breaking the curfew and for having filmed public places without the necessary authorisation," the ministry said.
"AP journalists in Egypt have faced the same harassment and intimidation as other news organizations," said the US news agency's spokesman Paul Colford.
"One AP location was disrupted today by stick-wielding thugs and satellite equipment was taken. The situation was quickly defused. No one was injured."
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Friday, February 4th 2011
Joseph Krauss
           


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