Category: Turkey, MENA, Netherlands, Europe, Egypt

IPI presses Cairo for release of Turkish journalists

Death toll for media workers rises to five as Egyptian reported shot dead at checkpoint


Tahir Osman Hamde; Photo by: İhlas news agency

VIENNA, Aug 21 2013 - Egyptian security forces should immediately release the Cairo bureau chief of Turkey's İhlas news agency and a Turkish television correspondent who was arrested last weekend, the International Press Institute and its Turkish National Committee said today.

Tahir Osman Hamde, 40, was seized by the Egyptian authorities on August 20 and security forces raided his office in a Cairo hotel, confiscating his computer and other equipment, the London senior production manager of the news agency, Ahu Kirimlioglu, told IPI.

“We are very worried about him as there isn’t a trace of him so far,” Kirimlioglu told IPI.

Egyptian authorities have refused to release information on Hamde's condition or his whereabouts, Kirimlioglu said. Hamde is a Dutch citizen and İhlas is working with the Netherlands Embassy to seek his release.

The Cairo correspondent for Turkish state broadcaster TRT, Metin Turan, also remained in detention since his arrest at a mosque near Cairo's Ramses Square last weekend.

"The Egyptian government must order its police and military to cease the arbitrary arrest, detention and harassment of journalists," said Anthony Mills, IPI director of communications and public relations. "There is now a dangerous pattern in Egypt of foreign and domestic media workers being targeted, in violation of international norms and of Egypt’s contention that it is upholding the fundamental rights of journalists as non-combatants."

IPI's Turkish National Committee also condemned the detention of Hamde and the raid on his office.

Turkey's government has been at odds with the interim government in Cairo since the military deposed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president on July 3 and an ensuing crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

At least five journalists have been killed in the week since Egyptian forces moved in to crush demonstrators loyal to Morsi.

On Monday, the Al-Ahram newspaper reported that one of its correspondents, Tamer Abdel-Raouf, was shot dead on August 19 as he and a colleague, Hamed El-Barbary of Al-Gomhoreya newspaper, were passing a police checkpoint in the northern governorate of Beheira.

El-Barbary was wounded, Ahramonline reported, saying that both men had been on assignment and were returning to their home base when police fired on their car.

Several foreign media organisations reported that journalists have been detained by the police without cause, harassed by protesters and had equipment seized or destroyed.

Hassan Saeed Elmogummer Taha, a news producer for Qatar-based Al Jazeera, told IPI on August 19 that two of its employees - correspondent Abdullah Alshami and news producer Mohammed Daver - were detained by the police without explanation. The news organisation's offices in central Cairo were surrounded, he said.

Sebastian Backhaus, a German freelance photojournalist, told IPI he was jailed for 20 hours for violating a curfew, wearing protective equipment and not having a journalists’ permit.

Media workers say journalists have become an easy target for both sides in the politically tense environment in Egypt, where more than 800 civilians and security forces have died in a week of clashes. Foreign journalists in particular have become popular targets because of their perceived bias in the country's sectarian rift, sources say.

The shooting death of Al-Ahram’s Abdel-Raouf brings to at least six the number of journalists killed in the last two months.

Those killed on August 14, the first day of the government crackdown, were:

Michael Deane, a cameraman for Britain’s Sky News, was shot dead while covering a police crackdown in Cairo; Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz, an Egyptian journalist, was killed by gunfire in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square; Mosab el-Shami, a photojournalist for Rassad News, died of gunshot wounds in Cairo; and Ahmed Abdel Gawad, a reporter for the Al Akhbar newspaper, was killed at Rabaa, The Associated Press reported.

Salah Eddin Hassan, who worked for the Shaab Misr newspaper, was killed on June 28, when an unidentified person threw a home-made explosive device into a crowd of protesters, a security official and witnesses said.

The Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates reported that Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz, a reporter for its sister publication the Xpress, was shot and killed on August 14 in Cairo, though the newspaper said she was on a personal visit to Egypt at the time.

The deaths make Egypt among the world's most deadly places for media workers after Syria and Somalia.


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