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04-02-11 - Eliminate the Witnesses

04-02-11 - Eliminate the Witnesses

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Published by William J Greenberg

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Published by: William J Greenberg on Feb 06, 2011
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03/20/2014

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Eliminate the Witnesses: Committee toProtect Journalists Criticizes Mubarak’sPolicy of Attacking and Silencing Journalistsin Egypt
The Mubarak regime’s violent crackdown has included deliberate targeting of journalistscovering the protests across Egypt. News outlets including Al Jazeera, CBS News, ABC News,Fox News, CNN, BBC, the
Washington Post 
, the
 New York Times
, Australian Broadcasting,Danish TV2 News and Swiss television have reported assaults, intimidation or arrests of their workers. We speak to Frank Smyth with the Committee to Protect Journalists, who reports therehas been a record of 100 attacks on journalists, 30 detentions, 26 assaults, and eight cases of media equipment seized. “This is worst case of the most blatant violence against the press thatI’ve seen in my 24 years or so reporting and my 10 years at CPJ,” Smyth says. “Clearly theMubarak regime is responsible. They are implementing a policy to eliminate witnesses to what isoccurring. It seems that the Mubarak regime is attempting to literally unplug Egypt from theworld.”
AMY GOODMAN:
The Mubarak regime’s violent crackdown has included the deliberatetargeting of journalists covering the protests. News outlets including Al Jazeera, CBS, ABC, Fox,CNN, BBC,
Washington Post 
,
 New York Times
, Australian Broadcasting, Danish TV2 News andSwiss television have reported assaults, intimidation, arrests, car jacking. On Thursday, ABC News correspondent Brian Hartman said he and three colleagues were abducted while drivingfrom Cairo’s airport. They were taken to a compound, each threatened with decapitation.Hartman says the group was let go only after a Lebanese camera operator working for ABC pleaded for mercy.
JUAN GONZALEZ:
Some journalists were arrested or had their equipment seized after theywere spotted covering the protests from buildings above the turmoil in the streets. InWashington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the crackdown.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON:
We condemn, in the strongest terms, attackson reporters covering the ongoing situation in Egypt. This is a violation of international normsthat guarantee freedom of the press and is unacceptable under any circumstances. We alsocondemn, in the strongest terms, attacks on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists,foreigners and diplomats.
 
AMY GOODMAN:
The Committee to Protect Journalists has been carefully monitoring thecrackdown on journalists.Frank, we only have three minutes. Frank Smyth is with us, the Committee to Protect JournalistsWashington representative and journalist safety coordinator, who knows violence himself against journalists, was captured when he was in Iraq.Frank, are you there? Frank Smyth, are you there?
FRANK SMYTH:
Yes, I’m here. Can you hear me?
AMY GOODMAN:
Yes, Frank. Can you talk very quickly about what has happened to the journalists? You are citing the largest numbers of journalists attacked, assaulted, detained.
FRANK SMYTH:
Yeah, very briefly, we’ve seen more than a hundred cases of attacks on journalists, at least 30 detentions, 26 assaults, and eight instances of equipment being seized.We’ve scene ruling party figures, plainclothes officers and uniformed police going into hotelsand detaining journalists under the pretext of protecting them. We’ve seen plainclothes agents, aswell as others, working, it seems, at the behest of the Mubarak regime, attacking journalists inthe streets.We’ve seen—and not only that, this is the worst case of the most blatant violence against the press that I’ve seen in my 24 years or so reporting and my 10 years at CPJ. I mean, this issomewhat reminiscent of what we saw in El Salvador back in the early 1980s. But this is evenmore blatant and more widespread. Beside the journalists that you’ve mentioned, journalistsfrom Romania have been attacked, Polish journalists have been attacked, journalists from AlJazeera as well as Al Arabiya have been attacked.And government officials, as you indicated, have also made insinuations, including having awoman, who had her face blocked out on screen, alleging that journalists were acting as Israelispies and that they had been trained in Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based. And, of course, that’staking a level of conspiracy theory to a whole new level.So it seems that the Mubarak regime is attempting to literally unplug Egypt from the world, byhaving shut down the internet previously and cell phone towers, and is now trying to unplug theworld from being able to watch and listen and hear what’s happening in the streets of Cairo andother cities. I don’t think it’s going to work, but it’s certainly the most widespread and blatantattacks against the press that I’ve seen in my career, and I think CPJ has witnessed.
AMY GOODMAN:
And what about a group of journalists who apparently have just beenreleased in the last hours?

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