CAIRO (AP) — Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak unleashed their fury on the media Wednesday, beating and threatening journalists who were covering fierce battles between pro- and anti-government crowds in central Cairo.
Four Israeli journalists and a Belgian reporter also were detained, according to reports.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists accused the Egyptian government of orchestrating attacks on reporters in an attempt to deprive the world of independent information about the unrest. The government denied it.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper and two Associated Press correspondents were among those roughed up during a chaotic day in which Mubarak backers turned out in force for the first time in nine days of protests against his autocratic rule.
The attacks appeared to reflect a pro-government view that many media outlets are sympathetic to protesters who want Mr. Mubarak to quit now rather than complete his term. On Tuesday night, Mr. Mubarak pledged not to run in elections later this year, and the army urged people to cease demonstrating.
In Wednesday’s fighting, security forces did not intervene as thousands of people hurled stones and firebombs at one another for hours in and around the capital’s Tahrir Square.
The Egyptian government has used “blanket censorship, intimidation and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“We strongly condemn these attacks and urge all parties to refrain from violence against journalists, local or foreign, who are simply trying to cover these demonstrations and clashes for the benefit of the public,” Anthony Mills, press freedom manager for Vienna, Austria-based IPI, said in a statement.
“We are particularly concerned at suggestions that the attacks may have been linked to the security services,” he said.
“It would help our purpose to have it as transparent as possible. We need your help,” Mr. Rady said in an interview with the Associated Press. However, he said some media were not impartial and were “taking sides against Egypt.”
Also Wednesday, Israel Radio said four Israeli journalists in Egypt were arrested for violating the nightly curfew and for working on tourist visas.
Israel Radio said the three work for Israel’s Channel 2 TV and the fourth for an Arabic-language portal based in the Israeli Arab town of Nazareth.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry did not confirm the report but released a statement calling on Israeli reporters in Egypt to “remain alert, act responsibly and follow the rules.”View Entire Story
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