My deepest respect and regards go to the courageous journalists around the world who work daily to tell the truth and often risk their lives to do it in the face of agression and repression. There is no justice without truth.
In Egypt, as anti-government protestors gathered in the streets, calling for the immediate departure of President Hosni Mubarak, pro- Mubarak forces have reportedly begun a concerted, organized campaign to intimidate the foreign press and prevent them from doing their jobs. CNN, Fox News, Al-Jazeera, The New York Times and the Washington Post are among news organizations that have reported attacks on their journalists.
The attackers have threatened some reporters with beheading, have beaten others, wounding some and sending them to the hospital. And supposed agents of the government have confiscated broadcast equipment and detained journalists.
All this bodes ill. Is this to clear the country of official witnesses in advance of a more violent crackdown on the people's uprising?
"The Committee to Protect Journalists has received nearly 50 reports Thursday of journalists being detained or beaten, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. He said reporters from various countries, including a BBC television correspondent and reporters from Spain, Sweden and Italy, are among those who have been rounded up or assaulted. He said there was a report of "thugs" breaking into a Hilton hotel -- where many journalists were staying -- to round up reporters.
"Things are about as out-of-control as they can get," Abdel Dayem said. The number of reporters who have been detained or beaten is "definitely in the dozens. Egypt TV is accusing a number of people, basically all foreigners on the street, to be Israeli spies. So you can do the math. Dozens have been arrested, beaten on the street, their equiptment confiscated and broken and their credentials burned."
Abdel Dayem said he does not recall a similarly bleak situation for reporters in recent years. According to CPJ's Web site, four journalists have been killed around the world in 2011 and 145 are currently in prison, not counting Egypt. In a report on its Web site Thursday, the CPJ rounded up the incidents in Egypt it has compiled so far.
"We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented action," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said, "and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately."
- Washington Post