By: Jeremy Morris, Associate Editor, USDR
The National Press Club on Friday strongly condemned the Egyptian government-ordered violence that resulted in the killings earlier this week of at least four journalists and the shooting, beating, and detainment of many more reporters.
The injured and killed reporters had been covering the Egyptian security forces’ attempt to break up protesters allied with the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi.
Violence continued in Cairo on Friday and with it the chance that even more harm would come to the journalists covering the clashes. Western journalists posted on Twitter on Friday of being briefly detained by members of a local citizens committee and having their camera gear confiscated.
“The killings and attacks on journalists in Egypt earlier this week were an egregious violation of international norms that uphold the media’s right to conduct its work unmolested and without fear of violent reprisals,” NPC Club President Angela Greiling Keane said. “As the turmoil in Egypt is not showing any signs of letting up, local and foreign reporters will continue to work to cover this hugely important story. It is critically important that both Egyptian security services and Muslim Brotherhood supporters respect press freedom and allow journalists to safely go about their work.”
The National Press Club also called on Egyptian authorities to carry out an investigation into each of the incidents where journalists were harmed or arrested and to take action against those responsible.
Wednesday was the deadliest day on record for journalists in Egypt, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Ahmed Abdel Gawad, an employee of the government –run Al-Akhbar newspaper is understood to have been shot to death while covering the Egyptian police crackdown at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque in Nasr City. Photojournalist Mosaab al-Shami of the local Rassd News Network reportedly was killed by a sniper as he tried to flee the violence at the mosque. Longtime cameraman Mick Deane of the British Sky News network was also killed by gunfire while documenting the mosque raid.
A fourth journalist was killed at the mosque, though that reporter, Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz, was not on assignment at the time of her death, according to information provided to CPJ by her employer, Gulf News.
Other reports have come in of more journalists suffering nonfatal gunshot wounds. Daily Beast/Newsweek foreign correspondent Mike Giglio wrote a first-hand account of his experience being brutally physically assaulted by security forces and briefly detained with other media workers while he attempted to cover the raid on Rabaa Al-Adawiya.
The National Press Club Press Freedom Committee leads Club efforts to speak out about potential threats to press freedom and open government in the United States and abroad and to promote greater transparency and protections for journalists.
The Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Founded in 1908, it comprises some 3,000 reporters and news sources.