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SPJ condemns attacks on press in Egypt, tells other governments to take note


For Immediate Release:

Hagit Limor, SPJ President, (513) 852-4012, hlimor@spj.org
Ricardo Sandoval Palos, SPJ International Journalism Committee Chairman, (415) 786-1258, rsandovalpalos@yahoo.com
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Director, (317) 640-9304, sleadingham@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists and its International Journalism Committee strongly condemn recent attacks on and detainment of journalists covering protests in Egypt.

“We urge Egyptians within the government and outside it to demonstrate their support of those who simply seek to tell the truth in this historic time for their nation,” SPJ President Hagit Limor said. “We condemn any violence against or arrests of journalists and other attempts to hinder reporting.”

Since protests began on Jan. 25, journalists from local, regional and international news outlets have covered the situation from many angles. What started as largely peaceful demonstrations turned violent as supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak clashed with protesters calling for him to resign. A worldwide audience is aware of calls for reform and the violence that followed thanks to journalists from numerous outlets.

On Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, news of extensive intimidation, harassment and violence against journalists spread, due in part to social media. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported Thursday it had tracked “30 detentions, 26 assaults and eight instances of equipment being seized.” The numbers have increased since then. ABC News compiled a similar and growing list.

Not only journalists, but citizens, activists and protesters have disseminated information because of Internet and social media tools. Due to this, word has spread faster of unwarranted attacks on news media and peaceful demonstrators.

“This is proof that attempts to hinder the press in these situations are ultimately futile,” said Ricardo Sandoval Palos, chairman of SPJ’s International Journalism Committee. “But they can be dangerous, too, as they have the immediate effect of encouraging some people to brutally attack reporters.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned attacks on the press, calling them “a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press, and it is unacceptable under any circumstances.”

SPJ echoes Clinton’s words and calls on the Egyptian government, pro-Mubarak demonstrators and all people to let journalists do their jobs: to report news of significant events in a nation’s history.

Additionally, all governments in the region, including Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen, should realize that attacks on the press, openness and peaceful assembly only serve to undermine their legitimacy. All people deserve to be heard and to know unfiltered news. Heavy-handed tactics to control information and intimidate those who report it only amplify dissatisfaction, as the situation in Egypt shows.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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