Egypt: further attacks on journalists as tensions rise

Rebecca Hawkes | 27-01-2014

A cameraman and producer for Germany's public broadcaster ARD have been set upon and injured by an angry mob in Cairo, as conditions for reporters in the country decline further.

The two, along with their driver, were reportedly accused in the street of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood whilst filming on 24 January, and then attacked with razor blades and clubs. A plain-clothes policeman fired a gun to finally disperse the crowd.

"The atmosphere was very heated, and hostility was directed against anyone who did not come from the neighbourhood," wrote cameraman Martin Krüger on the ARD website. "After about 50 metres, we were stopped by a dozen local residents. Someone, not an official, asked us what media we are with, and if we had permission to shoot."

"We were accused of being 'traitors, supporters of terrorism'," he added.

Many other journalists covering the third anniversary of the revolution on 25 January also reportedly faced hostility over the weekend. At least five photojournalists arrested and two hospitalised with injuries, according to the Press Syndicate.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists believes 45 journalists have been attacked and more than 44 journalists have been detained in Egypt since former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

One of these, Australian national Peter Greste, released a letter from his cell in Tora Prison on 24 January 2014. He and two Al Jazeera colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested in a Cairo hotel on 29 December and accused of collaborating or belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The state has presented no evidence to support [their] allegations, and we have not been charged with any crime. But the prosecutor general has just extended our initial 15-day detention by another 15 days to give investigators more time to find something," writes Greste.

Ultimately, he calls for "loud and sustained pressure from human rights groups, individuals and governments who understand that Egypt's stability depends as much on its ability to hold open honest conversations among its people and the world, as it does on its ability to crush violence."

A further Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah El-Shamy, has now been jailed without charge for over six months, and recently began a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.