Journalists in Egypt are being targeted by the Egyptian military and pro-government protesters, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday evening. -- The website Swedish News in English gave details on an incident involving four Swedish reporters, and said that "Swedish tour operators Ving, Apollo, and Fritidsresor all announced they were cancelling all planned trips to Egypt for the rest of the winter season." -- The Associated Press reported that "The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists accused the Egyptian government of orchestrating attacks on reporters in an attempt to deprive the world of independent information about the unrest. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said 'infiltrated policemen' had joined the assaults." -- Veteran reporter Anderson Cooper of CNN, who was beaten up, was shocked at the speed with which the situation degenerated: "I've been in mobs before and I've been in riots, but I've never had it turn so quickly." -- The Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists accused the Egyptian government of using "blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs." -- There were reports that those carrying out the attacks were police in plainclothes....
'PRO-MUBARAK DEMONSTRATORS ARE TARGETING THE PRESS'
** Swedish reporters are held by Egyptian Army, accused of being Mossad spies; 4 Israelis arrested; Anderson Cooper is beaten up. **
February 2, 2011
Pro-government protesters and Egyptian military have attacked reporters from numerous media sources around the world during Wednesday's riots in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Two Swedish reporters were held for hours on Wednesday by Egyptian soldiers accusing them of being Mossad spies, the reporters' employer, daily newspaper Aftonbladet, reported.
The soldiers reportedly attacked the reporters, spitting in their faces and threatening to kill them.
Four Israeli journalists were arrested by Egyptian military police in Cairo on Wednesday. Three of those arrested work for Channel 2 and the fourth is from Nazareth.
In addition, renowned CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper and his news crew were roughed up by mobs favoring Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, as were Washington Post reporters. Cooper was reportedly punched in the head ten times.
Another CNN correspondent said that pro-government rioters were instructed to target the press.
The U.S. State Department condemned actions against journalists in Egypt on Wednesday.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted: "We are concerned about detentions and attacks on news media in Egypt. The civil society that Egypt wants to build includes a free press."
On Sunday, Egyptian authorities ordered the closure of Al-Jazeera's offices covering the protests. A statement by Al-Jazeera called Egypt's decision an act "designed to stifle and repress" open reporting. On Monday, six Al-Jazeera journalists were arrested, and released later that day.
SWEDISH JOURNALISTS ATTACKED BY CAIRO MOB
Swedish News in English
February 2, 2011
Two Swedish reporters were attacked by an angry mob Wednesday while reporting in an impoverished area of Cairo before a soldier arrested them and held them for several hours, their daily said.
A reporter and a photographer of the Aftonbladet tabloid -- who were accompanied by an interpreter and a driver -- were reporting on how the poorest Egyptians found food during the unrest that has rocked the Arab nation.
When the journalists got out of their car to ask a woman rummaging through garbage if they could film her, a mob suddenly formed around the pair.
"The crowd took the car keys and, the driver's SIM card, placed rocks in front of the car wheels, and spat in our faces" saying the team was from Israel's Mossad spy agency, reporter Karin Östman said.
A soldier came to help the journalists, but then refused to release them and threatened them, she added.
"He said that if he killed us right then no one would find us, and ordered us to stay in the car," she said, explaining that the soldier and other troops let them go after a few hours.
The incident comes on a day which saw supporters of embattled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak take to the streets in an attempt to show the Egyptian leader was not without allies following a week of protests calling for his ouster.
On Tuesday, Mubarak announced he would not run for reelection in Egypt's September vote, news which did little to quell the growing tide of sentiment against him.
Hundreds of protesters were injured in clashes on Wednesday between pro-Mubarak demonstrators and anti-government protestors who want the president to step down immediately.
In light of the unfolding political crisis, Swedish tour operators Ving, Apollo, and Fritidsresor all announced they were cancelling all planned trips to Egypt for the rest of the winter season.
"All travelers will of course be offered free cancelation or rebooking," Fritidsresor said in a statement.
According to Apollo, the cancellations will affect an estimated 20,000 customers, many of whom the company hopes can be rebooked on newly arranged trips to the Canary Islands and other destinations.
While the companies work to arrange alternate destinations for travelers still looking to escape the Swedish winter, they have also been busy flying Swedes home who have been on vacation in Egypt.
Nevertheless, the Swedish foreign ministry estimates that several thousand Swedes will still be in Egypt by the end of the week.
While the ministry continues to monitor developments, there are no plans for any additional measures above the evacuation efforts currently being undertaken by the tour operators.
"There are no changes in our travel advisory," foreign ministry spokesperson Camilla Åkesson Lindblom told the TT news agency.
JOURNALISTS ATTACKED, DETAINED IN EGYPT
By Christoper Torchia
February 2, 2011
CAIRO -- Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak unleashed their fury on the media Wednesday, beating and threatening journalists who were covering fierce battles between pro- and anti-government crowds in central Cairo.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists accused the Egyptian government of orchestrating attacks on reporters in an attempt to deprive the world of independent information about the unrest. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said "infiltrated policemen" had joined the assaults.
The Egyptian government denied the allegations.
CNN's Anderson Cooper was among those roughed up during a chaotic day in which Mubarak backers turned out in force for the first time in nine days of protests against his autocratic rule. Cooper said he, a producer and camera operator were set upon by people who began punching them and trying to break their camera.
"This is incredibly fast-moving," he said. "I've been in mobs before and I've been in riots, but I've never had it turn so quickly."
A journalist for Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television suffered a concussion, said media watchdog International Press Institute, citing Randa Abul-Azm, the station's bureau chief in Cairo.
The attacks appeared to reflect a pro-government view that many media outlets are sympathetic to protesters who want Mubarak to quit now rather than complete his term. On Tuesday night, Mubarak pledged not to run in elections later this year, and the army urged people to cease demonstrating.
In Wednesday's fighting, security forces did not intervene as thousands of people hurled stones and firebombs at each other for hours in and around the capital's Tahrir Square.
ABC's Christiane Amanpour said she could tell how the mood had changed from previous days after arriving in the square.
"You could smell it there," she said. "I just wondered what this was going to bode for the day."
She quickly found out: Thugs surrounded Amanpour and her crew shouting "We hate Americans" and "Go to hell," she said.
Amanpour decided to leave and her team got into a car. They were surrounded by a crowd that began rocking and pounding on the car, she said. Then someone threw a rock that shattered the windshield. The ABC team escaped unhurt.
The Egyptian government has used "blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists.
CPJ cited a report by independent daily *Al-Shorouk* in Cairo that men described as "plainclothes police" attacked their headquarters Wednesday, injuring two reporters and smashing a camera.
There were reported assaults on journalists for the BBC, Danish TV2 News, and Swiss television. Two Associated Press correspondents were also roughed up.
"We strongly condemn these attacks and urge all parties to refrain from violence against journalists, local or foreign, who are simply trying to cover these demonstrations and clashes for the benefit of the public," Anthony Mills, press freedom manager for Vienna-based IPI, said in a statement.
"We are particularly concerned at suggestions that the attacks may have been linked to the security services," he said.
Government spokesman Magdy Rady said the assertion of state involvement in street clashes and attacks on reporters was a "fiction," and that the government welcomed objective coverage.
"It would help our purpose to have it as transparent as possible. We need your help," Rady said in an interview with the Associated Press. However, he said some media were not impartial and were "taking sides against Egypt."
Also Wednesday, Israeli media said four Israeli journalists in Egypt were arrested for violating the nightly curfew and working on tourist visas. Three were later released.
Israel Radio said one of the journalists worked for an Arabic-language portal based in the Israeli Arab town of Nazareth. Israel's Channel 2 TV denied reports that three of its reporters were among those detained.
Israel's Foreign Ministry released a statement calling on Israeli reporters in Egypt to "remain alert, act responsibly, and follow the rules."
Egyptian state television reported Tuesday night that foreigners were caught distributing anti-Mubarak leaflets, in what appeared to be an effort to depict the protest movement as foreign-fueled. The government restored Internet service on Wednesday after having shut it down since last week, apparently to thwart protesters from organizing.
The website of Belgium's Le Soir newspaper said Belgian reporter Serge Dumont, whose real name is Maurice Sarfatti, was beaten Wednesday while covering a pro-Mubarak demonstration and taken away by unidentified people dressed as civilians.
The paper said Sarfatti had been able to call the paper to tell them he had been taken to a military post.
"They are saying I'm going to be taken to see security services. They accuse me of being a spy," the paper's website quoted him as saying.
Le Soir said Sarfatti uses the byline Serge Dumont and that he also works for Switzerland's Le Temps and France's La Voix du Nord newspapers.
A reporter for Turkey's Fox TV, his Egyptian cameraman and their driver were abducted by men with knives while filming protests Wednesday, but Egyptian police later rescued them, said Anatolia, a Turkish news agency.
There was no information on why the crew was held or circumstances surrounding their release.
A correspondent and a cameraman working for Russia's Zvezda television channel were detained by men in plainclothes and held overnight Tuesday, Anastasiya Popova of Vesti state television and radio said on air from Cairo.
"All of their equipment, cameras and all cassettes, were taken from them, they were taken to a house and blindfolded," Popova said. They were questioned, she said, "but today they took them to the outskirts of town and let them go without any explanation."
--Associated Press writers David Bauder in New York, Angela Doland in Paris, Lynn Berry in Moscow, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Mark Lavie in Jerusalem contributed to this report.