New York, August 16, 2013–Security forces raided and shut down the Cairo offices of Al-Jazeera Arabic following violent clashes that have swept the country, according to news reports. Multiple local and international journalists have also reported being attacked by security forces and protesters.
Egyptian security forces raided and closed Al-Jazeera Arabic’s office late last night, the network reported. Security forces ordered staff members at the office to leave the building and formed a cordon to prevent employees from re-entering.
“If they genuinely seek to establish democracy, Egyptian authorities must learn to tolerate all viewpoints,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator. “We call on the government to reopen the offices of Al-Jazeera and allow all news outlets to operate freely.”
Al-Jazeera’s Egyptian affiliate, Al-Jazeera Mubashir, as well as several stations supportive of former President Mohamed Morsi, was previously raided on July 3 moments after the Egyptian military announced his removal. Cameras and equipment confiscated in the previous raid have not yet been returned, Al-Jazeera reported. Al-Jazeera and its affiliates have been severely criticized by many Egyptians who accuse the network of pro-Morsi bias.
The state-run Ahram newspaper reported Thursday that authorities are meeting next week to discuss the withdrawal of Al-Jazeera Mubashir’s license in Egypt.
Several Al-Jazeera staff are in detention or facing litigation. Photographer Mohammad Bader has been detained since July 15 on charges of weapon possession. Al-Jazeera has denied the charges against Bader. Authorities have not disclosed the whereabouts of correspondent Abdullah al-Shami, who was detained on Wednesday. Bureau Chief Abdel Fateh Fayed and broadcast engineer Ahmed Hassan have been accused of threatening national security in their news coverage and are under investigation.
Several local and international journalists faced harassment while reporting on the ongoing clashes across Egypt in the aftermath of the bloody raids against pro-Morsi sit-ins on Wednesday.
“Journalists are in more danger than they were under Hosni Mubarak in terms of both legal and physical threats,” said CPJ’s Mansour.
Police confiscated the equipment of Egypt Independent‘s Tom Rollins as he was reporting near Ramses Square, the journalist told CPJ. The equipment of freelance journalists Cliff Cheney and Jared Malsin was stolen by unidentified youth, the journalists both said on Twitter today. The journalists were unhurt.
Al-Hayat independent TV network said on Twitter that its crew was attacked by apparent Morsi supporters and their broadcast equipment seized while journalists were covering demonstrations in Nasr City today. The independent Al-Fagr paper reported that one of its correspondents, Fathallah Radwan, had been assaulted in Aswan on Thursday. A third paper, Al-Youm Al-Saba’a, said that its reporter, Hossam Khairallah, had been beaten and detained for an hour by who it said were Morsi supporters while covering a pro-Morsi protest in Alexandria on Thursday. Khairallah said his pictures were deleted from his cell phone.
A news crew for the German public broadcaster ARD was assaulted by civilians in the Alf Maskan area of Cairo on Thursday, as they were conducting interviews on the situation of Egyptian Christians, news reports said.
Press freedom has reached a nadir in Egypt this week, with at least three journalists killed, several journalists detained, and numerous journalists injured while reporting on this week’s bloody events. At least five news outlets that were shut down in early July remain closed.
CPJ released a special report on Wednesday called “On the Divide: Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt.” The report chronicles how both the Morsi administration and the current government have disappointed the high hopes for press freedom in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
- For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Egypt page.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This news alert has been corrected to reflect that Al-Jazeera Arabic’s office was raided, not Al-Jazeera Mubashir’s office as previously stated. It has also been corrected to show that the Ahram report was published Thursday instead of today.