Press harassed, censored as Egypt’s turmoil continues

New York, July 18, 2013–A number of Egyptian journalists have been barred from covering public press conferences and several others have been detained in recent days amid the country’s highly polarized political and news media atmosphere, according to news reports.

“Political conflict is taking a toll on the free flow of information,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. “Denying access and intimidating journalists will only further enlarge Egypt’s political divide.”

Guards at the presidential palace on Wednesday barred journalists affiliated with Al-Jazeera and the Turkish news agency Anadolu from covering a press conference held by the political adviser of Adly Mansour, the interim president, according to news reports.

Eman Abdelmonem, Anadolu’s Cairo correspondent, said she was not given a specific explanation by the guards. The agency started being denied access to news events after Ahmed al-Mosalamany, adviser to Mansour, publicly criticized Turkey for calling the military’s takeover a coup.

Correspondents for the dailies Al-Youm7 and Al-Watan were barred from covering a Muslim Brotherhood press conference in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque, according to news reports. The Brotherhood said earlier this month that it would allow only international press to cover its conferences because the local press would use the information to attack it, news reports said.

Police arrested Mohammad Bader, a photographer for Al-Jazeera, on Monday while he was covering clashes in Cairo between members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and police, Al-Jazeera reported. Bader’s camera was also confiscated, according to Hayat el-Yamani, an Al-Jazeera correspondent. A public prosecutor charged Bader today with possessing a weapon, disturbing national security, and resisting law enforcement, and extended the journalist’s detention for another 15 days, according to news sources and local press freedom groups.

On the same day, protesters assaulted a TV crew for Sky News while its members sat inside the news van, according to news reports. The protesters beat the van with sticks and tried to push it on its side, the reports said. Samir Omar, the Egypt director for the outlet, told the television outlet CBC that supporters of Morsi had shouted at them, saying that Sky News broadcast news that was slanted against Morsi.

Police on Thursday detained four correspondents of Al-Jazeera English in Suez for nine hours, according to news reports. Authorities said the crew, who were not identified, did not have permission to film in the region. Al-Jazeera confirmed their release on Friday but did not offer further details.

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this alert incorrectly identified one of the detained Al-Jazeera English crew members as Jason Mojica, who no longer works for the station. Mojica was one of four journalists detained in Suez in 2011 while filming anti-government protests, according to CNN.