ABC News has compiled a list of all the journalists hassled and attacked in Egypt over the past several days. This goes from harassment all the way up to hospitalization, arrest and kidnapping. The environment for all journalists in Egypt – this list is quite long – has become terribly dangerous. A sampling:
CBS newsman Mark Strassman said he and a camera operator were attacked as they attempted to get close to the rock-throwing and take pictures. The camera operator, who he would not name, was punched repeatedly and hit in the face with Mace. / (wires)
CBS News’ Lara Logan reports she was marched back to her hotel at gunpoint when she and a crew were taking pictures of protests (link) Time Magainze reports that Lara Logan has been detained by Egyptian police. (link)
BBC also reported their 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 off 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. / (link)
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 / (link)
The New York Times has more. Roving gangs are hunting down journalists and even coming to their hotels to beat them up. And television coverage of Tahrir Square has basically been shut down.
The Committee to Protect Journalists places the blame squarely on the Mubarak regime. If there is no coverage of the events that unfold tomorrow, with massive demonstrations expected, then there is no pressure on the government for any restraint. Note that the Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, credited satellite TV stations for stirring up misplaced thoughts among the public. This has become a war on information.
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.
It seems that the Ramses Hilton is part of this, asking journalists to stop filming from its hotel “to ensure the safety and security of our guests and employees.” Even the US State Department has implicated the Mubarak government in these attacks on journalists. Secretary of State Clinton said today that “this is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and it is unacceptable under any circumstances … The Egyptian government must demonstrate its willingness to ensure journalists’ ability to report on these events to the people of Egypt and to the world.”
UPDATE: Robert Gibbs called this “totally unacceptable” today.