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CPJ calls on government to investigate attacks on the press

(CPJ/IFEX) - In a letter to Prime Minister Kamal El Ganzory, CPJ urges him to ensure that each case in a list of 35 journalists who were attacked is credibly and transparently investigated and that two online journalists are released from detention.

December 9, 2011
Prime Minister Kamal El Ganzory
2 Maglis Al-Shaab Street
Cairo, Egypt

Via email: [email protected]

Your Excellency Prime Minister El Ganzory:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention the mounting press freedom violations in Egypt. Between November 19 and 24, we documented at least 35 cases of journalists who were attacked in Cairo and Alexandria when protesters clashed with the military and police. We are attaching the list here and ask specifically for you to note the deteriorating state of press freedom in your country.

During your appointment to the premiership, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi announced that you would be granted significant presidential powers. You have since reiterated that you will exercise these powers to restore confidence in the faltering political process. It is in keeping with the spirit of your declaration that we urge you to ensure that each case, described in detail in the list, is given due attention and properly investigated. In addition, we ask you to oversee the release of two Egyptian journalists, Alaa Abd el-Fattah and Maikel Nabil Sanad, who remain in jail.

The press freedom violations we are pointing out come on the heels of sustained attacks against the press since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak. The journalists on this list have made multiple claims of being abused or sexually assaulted while in state custody. In many cases they reported that police intentionally fired live ammunition at them while they were documenting the protests.

The attacks on press freedom did not stop there. Other violations include the continued imprisonment of Alaa Abd el-Fattah and Maikel Nabil Sanad, two online journalists who wrote critically of the military. Credible claims of procedural irregularities and the use of demonstrably false testimonies by their lawyers have been ignored by prosecutors. The military also failed to investigate the killing of Wael Mikhael, a cameraman for the Coptic television broadcaster Al-Tareeq, who was killed during clashes between civilians and security forces on October 9.

CPJ also documented a growing roster of media violations that includes the December 1 distribution halt of the independent daily Al-Masry al-Youm's new weekly English-language edition called Egypt Independent. The paper was forced to stop an entire print run of 20,000 copies because of an opinion piece critical of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, according to the London-based daily The Independent.

Your Excellency, you have recently been granted presidential powers and are in the position to take action. We call on you to ensure that each case in the list of attacked journalists is credibly and transparently investigated and to ensure Abd el-Fattah and Sanad are freed from jail and allowed to work freely without fear of reprisal.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Joel Simon
Executive Director

Click here to read about the 35 journalists attacked between 19 and 24 November
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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    Maikel Nabil Sanad has not been allowed to go to the hospital since his imprisonment; he recently stopped drinking water and refused to take his heart medication.

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    Alaa Abd el-Fattah objected to questioning by military prosecutors and demanded any case be handled by civilian authorities; the military prosecutor responded by ordering his detention for 15 days pending investigation.



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