CPJ disturbed by reports of intimidation

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply troubled that Egyptian security forces have intimidated journalists who filed complaints after being assaulted by pro-government demonstrators in Cairo last month.

On May 25, government supporters beat demonstrators and several foreign and local journalists who were covering a protest over limited presidential elections. Journalists interviewed by CPJ said that they were punched, kicked, and slapped by the assailants, and that Egyptian security forces did not intervene. Journalists said they suspected some of the assailants were actually security agents. Some female reporters told CPJ that they were groped by the assailants.

More than a dozen journalists filed complaints with your office against the leadership of Egypt’s ruling party and specific officers who were present at the melee. Since that time, CPJ has learned, at least two female reporters have been pressured by security forces to withdraw their complaints. One journalist, Shaymaa Abol Kheir of the weekly independent newspaper Al-Dustour, who was beaten and groped by female government supporters, told CPJ that security agents have conveyed messages to her through relatives and neighbors. Abol Kheir told CPJ that agents told her neighbors that her brothers would be detained and that she would face legal charges unless she dropped her complaint.

Another journalist who filed a complaint, Abeer al-Askary, also from Al-Dustour, told local journalists that her family received a visit from individuals who identified themselves as General Intelligence agents, warning her and her family that they would face serious consequences unless she dropped her complaint. Journalists who spoke to al-Askary told CPJ that she was informed that her siblings would lose their government jobs and that her parents could be detained. Neither journalist has dropped her complaint.

These incidents of intimidation appear to be an attempt to stifle serious examination of last month’s troubling attacks on protestors and the media, and they call into question the seriousness and credibility of the government’s investigation. We urge you to ensure that any attempts by Egyptian authorities to hinder this investigation and intimidate complainants are stopped at once and that the investigation now under way is conducted thoroughly and expeditiously to determine those responsible for wrongdoing. The failure to do so would signal that Egyptian authorities tolerate violent attacks against the press.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your reply.


Ann Cooper
Executive Director