* U.S. condemns 'concerted' intimidation of press
* UK says harassment, Internet interference 'unacceptable'
* Press watchdog says Egypt 'eliminating witnesses'
(Updates with reporters freed, Egypt asked to stop attacks)
CAIRO/WASHINGTON, Feb 3 The United States on
Thursday condemned a "concerted campaign" to intimidate foreign
reporters covering the protests against President Hosni Mubarak
and said the Egyptian government must not target journalists.
Britain also criticized the harassment of journalists and
Egyptian interference with the Internet and mobile networks.
Two reporters working for The New York Times were detained
overnight and released, the newspaper said.
The Washington Post's Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel and
photographer Linda Davidson were detained covering Thursday's
protests. They were later released but Egyptian authorities
told them they were not permitted to leave a hotel near the
airport, Douglas Jehl, the newspaper's foreign editor, said.
"Any journalist that has been detained should be released
immediately," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who
reiterated that the time for political transition in Egypt was
now. Gibbs said acts to intimidate the media were "completely
and totally unacceptable." [ID:nN03288507]
"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 in a statement. U.S. diplomats pressed Egypt's government
to help stop the violence against journalists, he said later.
At least six people were killed and 800 wounded after
gunmen and stick-wielding Mubarak supporters attacked
demonstrators camped out for a 10th day on Cairo's Tahrir
Square to demand Mubarak end his 30-year rule. [ID:nLDE712003]
"The abuse of Internet and mobile networks and, in
particular, today's increased intimidation and harassment of
journalists are unacceptable and disturbing," British Foreign
Secretary William Hague said in a statement. [ID:nLAL004629]
Mobile operator Vodafone (VOD.L) said Egyptian authorities
used its network to send out pro-government text messages.
BEATEN AND STABBED
Reuters television said one of its crews was beaten up on
Thursday close to Tahrir Square while filming a piece about
shops and banks being forced to shut during the clashes.
A Greek reporter was stabbed in the leg by Mubarak
supporters and a photojournalist with him was beaten to the
head, a Reuters witness said.
CNN's Anderson Cooper said he and his crew were punched and
kicked in Cairo by Mubarak supporters and escaped with just
scratches as anti-government protests turned deadly on
The Hilton hotel in Cairo asked journalists not to film
from its property due to the threat that could pose to them and
other guests, a Hilton spokeswoman said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said the attacks on
foreign and Egyptian journalists were a government attempt at
"blanket censorship" and intimidation by resorting to mobs.
"The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of
eliminating witnesses to their actions," Mohamed Abdel Dayem,
Middle East and North Africa coordinator of the New York-based
press watchdog, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The government has resorted to blanket censorship,
intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on
journalists carried out by pro-government mobs," it said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists listed several
reported assaults on or against Egyptian, Arabic and
international media during violence sparked when Mubarak
supporters charged at anti-government protesters in Tahrir
Square. The army set up a buffer zone on Thursday between the
two sides. [ID:nN02277269]
The Pentagon said officials were gathering details on the
treatment of journalists in Egypt, but declined to point the
finger at the military.
"To date, we have seen them act professionally and with
restraint. Again, it's a very fluid situation so we are
watching every single day," said spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan.
(Reporting by Edmund Blair; additional reporting by Patricia
Zengerle, Phil Stewart, David Morgan and Tabassum Zakaria in
Washington, and Adrian Croft in London; writing by Anthony
Boadle; editing by Mohammad Zargham)