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White House Condemns Attacks On Journalists In Egypt

Tracy Bloom |
February 3, 2011 | 1:46 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

The White House on Thursday condemned attacks against U.S. and foreign reporters in Egypt, calling for the release of any journalist detained during the protests and violence that have rocked the country for the past week.

"This also is completely and totally unacceptable," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "Any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately."

CNN reported  that state department officials told them: "they have information that the Egyptian Interior Ministry is involved in a roundup of journalists. The officials said they are hearing reports from the U.S. Embassy in Egypt that the ministry has been involved in the arrest of reporters."

"There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting. We condemn such actions," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

"We need to be clear that the world is watching the actions that are being taken right now in Egypt," Gibbs said. "The actions of targeting journalists -- that is unacceptable"

ABC News reported that one of it crews in Egypt was carjacked by a group of angry Egyptian men and that they threatened to behead reporter Brian Hartman. The network also reported that anchor Christian Amanpour was surrounded by an angry crowd and threatened.

According to ABC News:

Word of their harrowing ordeal came in a Twitter message from Hartman that stated, "Just escaped after being carjacked at a checkpoint and driven to a compound where men surrounded the car and threatened to behead us."

"The men released us only after our camera man appealed to the generous spirit of the Egyptian people, hugging and kissing an elder," he added in a subsequent tweet.

Minutes after receiving news that Hartman had been safely released, ABC News anchor Christiane Amanpour and her team were surrounded and interrogated by a threatening crowd in Cairo when they were en route to the presidential palace to interview Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman.

And CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan and her crew were detained by Egyptian police outside Cairo's Israeli embassy on Thursday, Time reported.

On Wednesday, Logan reported on the trouble journalists had filing stories. "The army just shifted dramatically to a much more aggressive posture, and they have absolutely prevented us from filming anywhere," she said.

According to Time: "She has been filing reports from the country since Jan. 31. She went on to note that even when Logan and crew left their hotel without cameras, they were followed relentlessly by officials."

The Washington Post reported two of its journalists were also detained. 

The condemnation also comes a day after CNN's Anderson Cooper and other journalists were attacked by protesters. Cooper and his crew were attacked again on Thursday.

Said Gibbs: "An immediate step is, as we talk about the individual rights and freedoms that those in Egypt must have, one of those freedoms has to be the rights of journalists to move about and report on the goings on in the country."






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