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Unions condemn attacks on journalists in Egypt

3 February 2011

The NUJ has called on the Mubarak regime to stop attacking journalists, while welcoming the release of an NUJ member who was arrested in Cairo.

The NUJ also said that the Foreign Office must take urgent action to ensure the safety of UK media.

"Journalists have a job to do and they have the right to be able to report safely without being punched, kicked or arrested."

Journalists from the BBC, Al Jazeera, and other Arab news organisations are facing fresh attacks, according to reports from The Guardian. There is also an account in the Morning Star of attacks on photographers and reporters covering events in Cairo.

Channel 4 News reported that Mubarak's "secret police" were threatening journalists to keep the away from the streets of Cairo. The news service's foreign correspondent Jonathan Rugman tweeted earlier today:

"One journalist punched in face, another stabbed in leg by pro-Mubarak thugs in Cairo this morning. On their way to hospital now."

The NUJ has joined with the International Federation of Journalists in calling for an end to attacks on journalists who have been detained and beaten in Egypt.

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African Regional Organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), said it is very disturbed by the systematic pattern of the use of violence and the arbitrary arrest of journalists covering the protests by Egyptian authorities.

The FAJ has learnt of appalling reports of targeted assaults on journalists working for CNN, CBS, the BBC, Danish TV2 News, Swiss television, Belgium's Le Soir newspaper, Associated Press, Russia's Zvezda television channel, Turkey's state broadcaster TRT, Polish television TVP and Al Arabiya TV.

In addition to this, the Egyptian authorities also shut down the Cairo office of Al Jazeera Satellite television network on Sunday and briefly detained its journalists.

Omar Faruk Osman, FAJ President, said:

"We denounce this growing trend of repression and harassments against journalists and news media organisations in Egypt. Journalists covering the civilian unrest in Cairo and other Egyptian cities are testing the limits of press freedom, and the government must take responsibility and end these assaults against journalists now. Authorities must allow journalists to execute their professional work freely and fearlessly."

FAJ noted the statement of Egyptian Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq, promising investigations on attacks against journalists, but demanded assaults against journalists to be stopped immediately and for the investigations to be independent, believable and trustworthy so that the appropriate remedial actions are taken.

Omar Faruk Osman added: 

"We ask to the authorities to quickly ensure the safety and security of journalists covering the protest and to act with care and restraint."

The TUC is organising an urgent demonstration for 2pm this Tuesday, 8 February, outside the Egyptian Embassy – as part of the ITUC international day of action.

Tags: , egypt, harassment, nuj, ifj, faj, Hosni Mubarak, journalists detained, journalists freed, journalists injured, cnn, cbs, bbc, ap, al jazeera, al arabiya, guardian, broadcasting, newspapers, photographers, violence