Today, on its 18th day, the Egyptian revolution has finally achieved its goal, deposing Hosni Mubarak and his regime. Egyptian journalists who have courageously found ways to work under the yoke of Mubarak’s censorship and repression are releasing a sigh of relief that they’ve held in for three long decades.
As CPJ documented in real time over the last couple of weeks, both foreign and local journalists were subjected to an unprecedented campaign of censorship, assaults, detentions, and worse. At least one journalist was killed by uniformed agents while covering the unrest, according to news reports. Journalists also displayed admirable levels of courage as they–initially as individuals and small groups, and eventually in droves–made statements and took actions that exposed them to immense personal and professional risk.
Over the past couple of hours, journalists, foreign and local, are finally able to take out their cameras and notepads and report freely. I just received confirmation that Karim Amer, a blogger and longtime critic of Mubarak who was seized by state agents on Monday, was just released from custody. Amer had recently served a four-year prison term for his writing. That means that all detained journalists whom CPJ had been tracking over the past 18 days are now free.
Here’s one of the most moving things I heard today: I was talking to a friend who was demonstrating outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster. In his immediate vicinity was a journalist who, in an effort not to stand out, was discreetly using a small flip-camera to film the scene and a small notepad to take notes. As the official announcement was made that Mubarak had stepped down, the crowd roared in approval. Almost immediately, my friend relayed, a military officer went up to the reporter and handed him a professional camera with a massive lens. The officer said: “We were made to confiscate this camera from a journalist the other day. We had no choice. I don’t even know who that guy was and there is no way to track him. You’re a journalist; you’ll make good use of it. Take it and document the people’s revolution.”