WASHINGTON (Reuters) - CBS correspondent Lara Logan was beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob while covering the jubilation in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, the U.S. broadcasting network said Tuesday.
Logan, a 39-year-old South Africa native and longtime war correspondent, has since flown back to the United States and is recovering in hospital. She was one of dozens of journalists attacked during the three weeks of protests throughout Egypt.
CBS News said in a statement Logan was covering the celebrations for CBS’s “60 Minutes” program on February 11 when she and her team were surrounded by “a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy.”
“In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers,” CBS said.
Logan made her name as a war correspondent for Britain’s GMTV during the start of the U.S.-led Afghanistan war in 2001 and subsequently reported on the war in Iraq and its violent aftermath. She joined CBS News in 2002.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a media watchdog group, said at least 52 journalists were attacked and 76 were imprisoned during the unrest in Egypt that led Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power. All have been released, it said.
One journalist, Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ta’awun, was killed while filming clashes near Tahrir Square, the CPJ said.
“Egypt’s old regime orchestrated a ferocious campaign to stop the news of this movement for change,” Paul Steiger, a member of the CPJ’s board and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal said.
He was speaking at a news conference to discuss the group’s annual report, which examined working conditions for journalists in more than 100 countries. It said 44 journalists were killed and 145 were imprisoned in 2010.
The number of deaths marked a sharp drop from the 71 recorded in 2009. The high toll that year stemmed from a massacre in the Philippines in which at least 34 journalists died — the single deadliest event for journalists ever.
Pakistan was the deadliest country for journalists in 2010, with eight killed, followed by Iraq with five. Indonesia, Mexico and Honduras followed, each with three reporters slain.
This year’s report highlights the increasing importance of web-based journalism. In 2010, 69 journalists whose work appeared primarily online were jailed, according to the CPJ.
Steiger said attacks on Internet journalists, which often include cyberattacks and attacks on websites, must be closely monitored.
“The often invisible, sophisticated attacks constitute a new front in the fight for press freedom,” he said. “We need to pay close attention to Internet censorship.”
The CPJ report is online here
Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr. and Mark Egan; Editing by David Storey