25 January anniversary, 25 journalists abused: Journalists Against Torture

Amira El-Fekki
5 Min Read

On the dawn of Sunday, security forces stormed the house of journalists Ahmed and Mahmoud Al-Kaoud in the Beheira governorate, according to their brother Mohamed, deputy head of the sports section at Al-Shorouk newspaper based in Cairo.

“In a frightening raid, my brothers were arrested. Their personal belongings were taken, including their laptops, the mobile phones of all family members present at the house, money, jewelry and books, leaving the house vandalised,” Al-Kaoud reported on his personal Facebook account.

The Al-Kaoud brothers were released later Sunday after the Press Syndicate intervened to provide their assistance, since one of them was a member of the syndicate.

Orla Guerin, BBC news correspondent in Cairo, also reported on her Twitter account Sunday that security forces attempted to prevent her from covering clashes between protesters and police in Ain Shams, close to Matariya, another neighbourhood that witnessed violent demonstrations.

“In Ain Shams where police searching for brotherhood protestors. Cop in plain clothes says if we keep filming we will be shot,” Guerin tweeted.

Meanwhile, Dutch radio reporter Ester Meerman told Daily News Egypt Monday that as she was reporting in downtown Cairo, three men dressed in civilian clothes approached her and her assistant and claimed to be from the police.

“I was recording a voice-over in Borsa around 3pm,” said Meerman who was not covering ongoing protests. “Things had been calm and the area was deserted with the exception of a few people sitting on cafes.”

Meerman said the policemen were sceptical about her recording device and questioned her about it. “They checked our IDs and press cards then told us they were going to take us down to the police station,” she explained.

“But we never actually got to the station, just a nearby police office, and a dozen policemen inquired about the device and what we were doing. We were let go after they contacted my embassy, officials from the State Information Service (SIS) and the press centre in charge of foreign correspondents’ affairs,” Meerman said.

Meerman said she and her colleague were not subject to verbal or physical assault, but the police feared she was recording the arrest and “started pressing random buttons on the device, accidently recording themselves”.

At least 25 journalists were subject to assaults and violations of rights during their coverage of 25 January revolution anniversary protests and clashes, according to Egyptian NGO Journalists Against Torture Observatory (JATO).

The four above mentioned cases were part of reported assaults and violations of rights during coverage of at least 24 journalists on 25 January protests and clashes in Giza and Cairo.

JATO added that four photojournalists and one reporter were injured as a result of birdshots, in addition to three who were assaulted and beaten, amongst whom were two female reporters.

Reporters came from various media outlets, including ONA News Agency, Al-Fagr, Al-Shorouk newspaper, Masrawy, Dotmsr, Veto, Al-Bawaba, and Al-Masriya news websites. At least 14 reporters were arrested then released before detention, in addition to a couple of cases where journalists were prevented or threatened from carrying on their work.

JATO said updates were to follow in a final report to be issued, adding it had a team of field observers and collected the testimonies of journalists, and included two more reported cases.

The Press Syndicate condemned the “security crackdown” on journalists and “security chase just because they carried cameras” in a press release Sunday, mentioning 12 cases, including the Al-Kaouds’, varying between physical injury, and arbitrary arrest and search, reporting their release later on the same day.

On Sunday afternoon, amid the ongoing rallies commemorating the fourth anniversary of the revolution, some of the families of the ‘martyrs of 25 January’, along with nearly a hundred activists and journalists gathered in front of the syndicate chanting revolutionary slogans.

Participants reported on Twitter that their rally was “invaded” by a pro-regime march, which led to clashes, then security forces dispersed the protest with tear gas, reportedly using birdshots.

The syndicate renewed its calls to authorities to “stop abusing journalists”, urging the victims to pursue their legal rights through the syndicate.

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Journalist in DNE's politics section, focusing on human rights, laws and legislations, press freedom, among other local political issues.
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