A BBC news crew was briefly detained in Nasr City on Tuesday after a local resident alerted police that they were interviewing the wife of a man who was killed during the forcible dispersal of a sit-in supporting former President Mohamed Morsi last summer.
BBC correspondent Orla Guerin, producers Kate Benyon-Tinker and Wael Hussein and their interviewee Yasmine Abdelfattah were locked in a building by local residents who accused the group of being “spies”, Guerin reported via social media following their release.
The police arrived and detained the television crew and Abdelfattah; they were not formally arrested or charged and were released after two hours. Guerin reported that one of the residents who detained the crew said “she was ‘a journalist’ and claimed she had the right to decide who we speak to”.
Supporters of the ousted president have been subject to a security crackdown following the banning and terror listing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation that Morsi belongs to.
The incident follows a Monday call by the International Press Institute (IPI) for Egypt’s next president to ensure protection for journalists as Egyptians cast their ballots to choose their future leader. IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie called on the future president to “move immediately to free journalists who have been unjustly jailed, in some cases for months without a trial, and to announce that he will uphold the rights of press freedom and unfettered access to information guaranteed under the new Constitution”.
Currently, four employees of Qatar based satellite news channel Al Jazeera are currently detained in Egypt. Three of them, Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed are on trial on a variety of terror related charges. The fourth, Abdallah Elshamy, arrested last summer, has been on hunger strike that has lasted well over 100 days, during which time his health has deteriorated.
Media rights watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists named Egypt the third most deadly country in the world for journalists in 2013. Six journalists were killed in the last six months of the year.
The last fatality was Mayada Ashraf, a 22 year-old journalist for independent Al-Dostour newspaper, who was shot dead in Cairo’s Ain Shams neighborhood on 28 March while covering clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters.
She was the 11th journalist to be killed since the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign.