Egyptian press under fire after Morsi’s ouster

New York, July 8, 2013–An Egyptian photographer working for a newspaper affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood was killed today while covering clashes in Cairo, according to news reports. Other local and international journalists have also reported being targeted in the aftermath of last week’s ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.

Freedom and Justice, the newspaper of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, reported today that its photographer, 26-year-old Ahmed Assem el-Senousy, had been shot by a sniper after photographing security forces firing on pro-Morsi protesters. El-Senousy had been covering clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters at the Republican Guards headquarters, which have left at least 54 dead, according to news reports.

“A sniper silenced Ahmed Assem el-Senousy, but his killing has only amplified today’s tragic events,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Egypt’s path to peace and freedom depends on authorities respecting the rule of law and basic human rights for all people.”

Abeer al-Saady, vice chairman of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, told CPJ that his organization would be granting el-Senousy an honorary membership and would be supporting his family with a pension.

The fatality comes after several days of anti-press attacks and government censorship. A live broadcast van belonging to state television was seized by pro-Morsi protesters near Rabaa al-Adwiya in Nasr City on Saturday and used by pro-Morsi channels to cover the protest, according to news reports.

At a press conference today, a military spokesman said last week’s government censorship of several pro-Morsi channels was based on its belief that they were inciting violence, according to news reports. The officer also expelled Al-Jazeera Arabic’s Cairo director, Abdel Fateh Fayed, and an Al-Jazeera crew from the press conference after other journalists in the room said the channel was biased in favor of Morsi, the reports said.

Fayed had turned himself in for questioning yesterday after a prosecutor accused him of disturbing the public order and threatening national security, according to news reports. No evidence was cited to support the allegations. On Saturday, the office director for Al-Jazeera Mubashir, the network’s Egypt affiliate, was released on bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately US$1,400) after being arrested on July 3. A number of Al-Jazeera journalists were reported to have resigned in recent days amid disagreements over the station’s political perspective in covering the unrest.

International journalists have also come under threat. The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen was hit in the head by birdshot fired by Egyptian security forces as he covered pro-Morsi protests on July 5, according to news reports. On the same day, the military cut off a live broadcast from CNN’s Ben Wedeman in Tahrir Square. After Morsi opponents accused CNN of bias, Wedeman tweeted yesterday that Tahrir was no longer safe for the CNN crew.

Other international journalists, including Ed Ou from Getty and Matt Cassel of Al-Jazeera English, have said on Twitter that said Tahrir Square was not safe for foreigners. In the press conference today, the military warned non-Egyptians to stay away from the protests.

A German TV crew led by Dirk Emmerich was detained for seven hours today by security forces while covering the clashes outside the Republican Guards headquarters, according to news reports citing Emmerich’s Twitter feed.

In the past two weeks, two journalists and a student have been killed while documenting protests and clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi. Prior to these deaths, only four journalists had been killed in Egypt since 1992, according to CPJ research.

  • For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Egypt page.