Reporters Without Borders

Military abuses against media continue

Military abuses against media continue

Published on Wednesday 12 October 2011. Updated on Saturday 22 October 2011.
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Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the Egyptian army’s use of violence against news media and journalists during a demonstration by Coptic Christians on 9 October, in which a total of 24 people were killed.

A journalist was one of those killed during the army’s exceptionally violent attack on the demonstrators but it has not yet been established whether he was there as a participant or to cover the demonstration. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to do everything possible to shed light on the circumstances of his death.

The headquarters of Al-Hurra and Channel January 25, two TV stations located in Cairo’s Maspero neighbourhood, were stormed by soldiers during the night as they were broadcasting reports on the violent clashes between Copt demonstrators and soldiers that were taking place in Maspero.

The soldiers suspended their broadcasts until 1 a.m. and threatened journalists at gunpoint. The incident was followed live by thousands of viewers.

Soldiers also cut the power supply, phone lines and Internet connection to the offices of the newspaper Al-Shorooq, disrupting the production of its print version and blocking access to its website, which was posting reports on the clashes, for about 20 minutes.

Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns Christian Dogma TV cameraman Wael Mikhail’s death during the night of 9 October. Christian Dogma TV said he was killed while covering the violence and was definitely not one of the demonstrators. The press freedom organization offers its condolences to his family while urging the authorities to establish how he died.

Blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad still held

Reporters Without Borders also deplores the fact that, while continuing to advocate a democratic transition, the Egyptian authorities continue to try civilians by court martial and to perpetuate the Mubarak regime’s methods.

The organization calls for the immediate release of the blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad following yesterday’s decision by a military appeal court, after many previous hearings, to quash his 10 April conviction by a court martial, which sentenced him to three years in prison, and to order a retrial.

Sanad, who has been held since 28 March and has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days despite serious health problems, is to be tried again before a new jury tomorrow.

Judicial harassment of Asmaa Mahfouz

Reporters Without Borders condemns the hounding of Asmaa Mahfouz, a woman blogger and activist who has been nominated for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded by the European Parliament.

Several army officers filed a complaint against her before a military court on 8 October accusing her and fellow activist Nour Ayman Nour of insulting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces during demonstrations in support of Sanad on 3 and 4 October.

Mahfouz was already threatened with a trial by court martial on the same charge in August until a decision was taken to drop the case. Reporters Without Borders urges the Supreme Council to again abandon its plans to prosecute Mahfouz.

Sahar Maher, who was arrested during a demonstration in support of Sanad yesterday, has been released. She had been accused of illegal assembly and taking photos in a military area without permission.

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