Thursday, February 3, 2011

Advocates Offer Tips to Targeted Reporters in Egypt

The watchdog group Reporters Without Borders is advising international journalists covering the revolution in Egypt and their respective governments to band together as forces loyal to the relentless despot Hosni Mubarak launch "systematic" attacks aimed at silencing those courageous journalists.

“We urge all news media to reinforce their coordination in order to provide as much security as possible for their correspondents in Egypt. And we urge foreign governments and their embassies to provide the utmost diplomatic support for journalists from their countries when they find themselves in difficulty,” said Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Jean-Fran├žois Julliard.

“Theft, violence, arbitrary arrests and extreme violence... the list of abuses against journalists by President Mubarak’s supporters is getting longer by the hour and they are clearly systematic and concerted... This has gone beyond censorship. This is now about ridding Cairo of all journalists working for foreign news media," Julliard said.


The reporters' rights organization, which tracks attacks on journalists around the world, weighed in as the White House and State Department condemned the campaign to terrorize the news media.

"We condemn in the strongest terms attacks on reporters covering the ongoing situation in Egypt. This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and is unacceptable under any circumstances. We also condemn in the strongest terms attacks on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners, and diplomats," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press are pillars of an open and inclusive society. It is especially in times of crisis that governments must demonstrate their adherence to these universal values. There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian Government, including the army, to protect those threatened and to hold accountable those responsible for these attacks. The Egyptian Government must demonstrate its willingness to ensure journalists’ ability to report on these events to the people of Egypt and to the world," she added.

Earlier, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to University Park, Penn., where President Obama made remarks on the economy, "the systematic targeting of journalists in Egypt... is completely and totally unacceptable."

"Any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately. I think we need to be clear that the world is watching the actions that are taking place right now in Egypt," Gibbs said.

"And I’ll reiterate again that the actions of targeting journalists, that is unacceptable, and that those journalists should be, if they are detained, released immediately. I know the President has been briefed on this as part of the daily briefing this morning, Gibbs added.

Egyptian spymaster and Mubarak's newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman condemned the attacks on journalists, but in comments on Egyptian TV he seemed to give undue cover to the menacing mobs when he added, "I blame some sister countries that have unfriendly TV stations, which incite youth against us."

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