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Young people run from police tear gas amid calls for protests in downtown Cairo, April 25, 2016. (Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP)

Scores of journalists harassed, detained amid Egypt protests

April 25, 2016 4:51 PM ET

New York, April 25, 2016--Egyptian authorities should immediately cease detaining and harassing journalists, and allow them to do their jobs, including allowing them to cover street protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

In the capital today, Egyptian security forces detained at least 33 journalists attempting to cover planned street protests against a deal handing control of two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate, the advocacy group Journalists Against Torture Observatory (JATO), and Egyptian news websites reported. Of the at least 33 journalists reported detained, only two remained in detention at the time of publication, according to those groups and news reports.

"Egyptian authorities appear determined to prevent any protests and any mention of their forcibly dispersing those protests," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington. "Rather than repeating its predecessors' mistake of trying to silence dissent, the government should ensure reporters can do their jobs safely and without fear of reprisal."

Security forces detained at least 17 journalists in downtown Cairo, where military and police conducted sweeps to detain potential demonstrators and to close streets leading to the site of a planned protest at the Journalists' Syndicate, according to press and advocacy group accounts. Among those detained in central Cairo were eight members of a crew for the broadcaster ONTV; Dot Masr news website producer Mohamed Elsawy and writer Basma Mostafa; El-Tareeq news website manager Mostafa Reda and editor Hesham Mostafa; Al-Shorouk daily newspaper editors Ahmed Al-Bardini and Mohamed Magdi; ONA news agency correspondent Omar Abdel Nasser; Assafir newspaper correspondent Mazen Helmi; and Shams Nabil, a photographer for the news website Al-Mesryoon, who was still in custody at the time of publication, according to JATO.

At least 16 journalists were detained while covering protests at the headquarters of the opposition Al-Karama Party in Giza, across the Nile River from Cairo, according their employers and JATO. The list include 13 local journalists: Hadi Al-Desouki and Yehia Morsi, of the daily newspaper Al-Akhbar; Hesham Mohamed, a photographer for the daily newspaper Al-Watan; photographer Mohamed Adli and editors Mohamed Shehata and Ahmed El-Refae, all of the daily newspaper Sawt Al-Umma; Al-Wafd daily newspaper editors Khaled Ammar and Mohamed Gamal Desouki; El-Fagr news website editor Mohamed al-Mosalami and photographer Ali Abdeen; Sada El-Balad news website photographer Amr Sayed; ONA news agency editor Omar Gamal; and Amin Amr Amin, an editor for Al-Mesryoon, who was still in custody at the time of publication, according to JATO.

Three international journalists were also detained in the area, according to their social media accounts and JATO: French freelance journalist Jenna Le Bras; Danish freelance journalist Stefan Weichert; and Norwegian freelance journalist Harald Christian Hoff.

Police harassed and briefly detained at least eight journalists when similar protests were planned on April 15. Egypt was the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide in 2015, according to CPJ's prison census.

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