Egypt: Crackdown on Al Jazeera and other media condemned

Amnesty International has condemned the Egyptian government’s continuing crackdown on freedom of expression after six Al Jazeera journalists were briefly detained by the military and their Cairo bureau was shut down by the authorities, disrupting its reporting of mass nationwide demonstrations.

Al Jazeera English said that six journalists were detained at an army checkpoint outside Cairo’s Hilton hotel earlier today. They were held only briefly but their cameras and other equipment were confiscated. Yesterday, Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau was officially shut down by order of Egypt's Information Ministry, said the network.

Local and international journalists have been assaulted, arrested and their equipment confiscated by security forces throughout the current protests in Egypt,  and in separate incidents Amnesty researchers have reported that security forces have confiscated video cameras from people on Cairo’s streets today.

Most of the country’s internet services have been suspended since last Friday.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Malcolm Smart said:

“This government action against Al Jazeera is just its latest attempt to close down reporting of the protests on the streets and the free flow of information.

"The authorities are clearly trying to intimidate the media and to prevent the truth coming out about abuses by its security forces, as they struggle to maintain their grip on power in the face of unprecedented protests and demands for fundamental change.

“Journalists must be free to do their jobs, and internet services must be restored.

“The government must not be allowed to put the whole country under an information blackout, and that message needs to be sent to them very clearly by their friends and allies abroad.

"Mobile phones and social networking sites have been a big factor in helping bring people on to the streets and to organise protests, with people using their phone cameras to expose the reality of police torture and violence. That is why the Egyptian authorities are so keen to target them.

"They want to stop the truth emerging. They must not be allowed to succeed."

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