Egypt attacks journalists to censor news - watchdog

NEW YORK Wed Feb 2, 2011 7:07pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attacked journalists on Cairo streets on Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said, calling the incidents an effort at "blanket censorship."

The New York-based rights group released a statement urging the Egyptian military to provide protection for journalists covering protests there and listing a series of attacks.

"The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa coordinator.

"The government has resorted to blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs," he said.

Among the reported incidents against the press are:

* Plainclothes police attacked the offices of Cairo newspaper Al-Shorouk, which said a reporter and photographer were injured and a camera smashed. The newspaper's website also said army officers confiscated a press card and a memory card from one of its reporters on the street.

* Police arrested four Israeli journalists in Cairo for violating the curfew and for entering the country on tourist visas, according to news reports.

* Belgian journalist Maurice Sarfatti, who writes under the name Serge Dumont and works for various newspapers, was beaten and arrested while on assignment in Cairo, according to a statement from Brussels-based Le Soir, which said he was being held by soldiers and accused of being a spy.

* CNN's Anderson Cooper and his crew were attacked by pro-Mubarak supporters. "We were moving quickly and a bunch of guys who hit us were also on the move, a lot of it was sort of glancing blows," Cooper told Reuters.

* ABC journalist Christiane Amanpour said in a statement that she and her crew also were confronted in Cairo by protesters. "An angry mob surrounded us and chased us into the car, shouting that they hate America," she said. "They kicked in the car doors and broke our windshield as we drove away."

* The Associated Press said two of its correspondents were roughed up covering a pro-Mubarak gathering.

* Danish Middle East correspondent Steffen Jensen was beaten by pro-Mubarak supporters with clubs while reporting live on the phone to Danish TV2 News from Cairo, Danish media reported. Jensen, who was not seriously injured, said he was being held by soldiers and did not know the reason for his detention.

* The BBC reported that its correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was detained in Cairo by secret police agents who handcuffed and blindfolded him and an unnamed colleague and detained them for three hours.

* CPJ said Al-Jazeera continues to face pressure from the government-owned Nilesat satellite provider, which has taken steps to try and keep the news channel off the air.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

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