February 4, 2011 / 1:30 PM / 9 years ago

Egypt's army instructed to help foreign media

A member of the press lies on the ground after being attacked by mobs while soldiers surround him in Cairo, February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Kyodo

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s army has been instructed to assist foreign media and help protect them from groups in plain clothes who have attacked and beaten journalists as the capital’s streets have become lawless, the cabinet said.

The United States Thursday condemned a “concerted campaign” to intimidate foreign reporters covering protests against Mubarak and said Egypt must not target journalists. Britain also criticised the harassment of journalists.

“I spoke to the prime minister about journalists’ problems. He was very much disturbed. He contacted the armed forces and instructed them to facilitate the job of the foreign media and stop any interference in their job,” cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady told Reuters.

“The army will help you in areas where you have contact with people,” he added, referring to groups in civilian clothes who have been prowling the streets and often hassling journalists.

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.

Among other cases, Reuters television said one of its crews was beaten up Thursday close to Tahrir Square while filming a piece about shops and banks being forced to shut during clashes.

Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Jon Boyle

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