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Thursday, June 1, 2006 11:53 AM
  
1/6/06

EGYPT : TWO BLOGGERS ARRESTED AND BEATEN, LOS ANGELES TIMES REPORTER TEAR-GASSED

 

 

English

Reporters without Borders
 
Press release
 
May 26, 2006
 
EGYPT
 
TWO BLOGGERS ARRESTED AND BEATEN, LOS ANGELES TIMES REPORTER TEAR-GASSED

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrests of two bloggers, Mohammed Sharkawy and Karim El-Shaer, during a demonstration at the Press Syndicate in Cairo yesterday and the behaviour of the police in using violence to disperse protestors and attacking Los Angeles Times correspondent Hossam El-Hamalwy as he was trying to cover the event.

“The eye-witness accounts we have received about the arrests of the bloggers and the attack on the LA Times reporter are very disturbing,” the press freedom organisation said. “The international community should react firmly and condemn such practices on the part of a government that claims to be democratic.”

Yesterday’s demonstration at the Press Syndicate was held to commemorate the opposition activists who were the victims of repression during a referendum last year. Plain-clothes police dragged Sharkawy (blog: www.speaksfreely.net/) from the taxi in which he was about to leave and gave him a beating. They then took him to a police station where he was beaten again and subjected to humiliating acts. His body afterwards bore the marks of the mistreatment and one of his ribs may be broken.

El-Shaer (blog: misrhura.blogspirit.com/) was in the car of BBC journalist Dina Samak when he was detained by members of a group of about 30 plain-clothes policemen. (The Reporters Without Borders website has photos of the car afterwards). El-Shaer was beaten at the time of his arrest and was subjected to further mistreatment at the police station.

The two bloggers are now being held in Tora prison, where they are supposed to remain in detention for at least two weeks. They are accused of “insulting the president” and violating the state of emergency (which bans gatherings of more than five people). They both asked to be examined by an independent doctor to verify the injuries they received, but their requests were rejected.

Plain-clothes police sprayed El-Hamalwy with tear-gas as he was covering the protest. It seems the police wanted to prevent him and the two bloggers from going to another demonstration taking place yesterday outside the Cairo high court.

A third blogger, Alaa Abd El-Fatah, has been held since 7 May. Reporters Without Borders called for his release on 9 May.

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Julien Pain
Bureau Internet et libertÚs / Internet Freedom desk

     
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