New York, July 25, 2013–Several journalists have reported being harassed, censored, or attacked over the past week in Egypt, according to news reports and local journalists. The incidents come as Egyptian authorities have announced their intentions to abolish prison terms for insult charges.
“The Egyptian government’s promises need to be backed up by real action in support of press freedom,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Putting an end to intimidation and physical attacks is a necessary first step.”
On Sunday, the interim prime minister approved a draft law to abolish prison terms in crimes of insulting the president, according to news reports. The bill was sent to the interim president to sign into a law. The details of the bill, including what impact it could have for journalists facing litigation for press violations, have not been reported.
Egypt’s prosecutor general interrogated on Wednesday Abdel Nasser Salama, editor-in-chief of the government daily Al-Ahram, on accusation of publishing false news, according to news reports. The paper had reported on Monday that ousted President Mohamed Morsi would face charges of espionage. Spokesmen for the prosecutor-general and the military have denied the reports.
Wael Kandiel, columnist and managing editor of Al-Shorouk daily, told the regional group Arabic Network for Human Rights Information that an article he had written, which was supposed to appear today in the print version of the paper, had been removed right before publication. The article, which was posted on the newspaper’s website, criticized a call made by the defense minister, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, for protests that would grant him the mandate to fight potential terrorism.
Kandiel did not say who had ordered his article to be removed, the report said. CPJ’s messages left with Kandeil and Al-Shorouk were not returned.
On Wednesday, unidentified assailants beat Mahmoud el-Hosary, correspondent for Al-Watan, on the head with sticks and confiscated his camera, according to the journalist. El-Hosary told CPJ that he was covering clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi in Monofeya province. He said his injuries were minor and that he did not have to be hospitalized.
Police on Saturday stormed the offices of Iranian Al-Alam Channel in Cairo, arresting its director, Ahmed al-Shweify, and confiscating its equipment, the station reported. Police charged the editor with running a foreign TV channel without a license and broadcasting from Egypt without permission. Al-Shweify, who was released on bail on Monday, told Al-Dustour newspaper that the station had applied for a license with the government.
Al-Alam Channel, which is based in Tehran and maintains numerous bureaus throughout the world, was also raided in May 2012, according to news reports.
Two journalists reported being attacked by supporters and opponents of Morsi while covering rallies in Cairo. Nada al-Kholy, reporter for Al-Shorouk, was beaten while covering protests in Zaytoun neighborhood on Sunday. She said her assailants thought she was a Morsi supporter, and that her camera was confiscated. On Friday, protesters attacked Menna Alaa, photojournalist for Al-Masry al-Youm daily, while she was covering an attack by demonstrators against three people during a pro-Morsi sit-in in Nasr city neighborhood. Alaa said she was slapped and her camera confiscated.
- For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Egypt page.