6 December 2012

Egypt: President's Supporters Deliberately Fire On Journalists Covering Clashes

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the actions of President Mohamed Morsi's supporters who deliberately fired on journalists and attacked them as they were covering last night's clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo.

Al-Hosseiny Abu Deif, an experienced newspaper reporter, died in hospital after being hit in the head by a rubber bullet fired at close range at around 1 a.m. today.

"Witnesses say the president's supporters deliberately targeted and attacked journalists," Reporters Without Borders said. "We call on President Morsi to order an investigation into the circumstances of these attacks and to punish those responsible. As president, he must ensure the safety of all of his fellow citizens, including journalists.

"We also call on the president to rescind the 22 November decree granting himself extraordinary powers, and not hold a referendum on the draft constitution in its current form. The Constituent Commission must amend the draft in order to provide more protection for freedom of expression and information."

A witness told Reporters Without Borders that Morsi supporters deliberately targeted Deif, who works for the newspaper Al-Fagr. Five minutes before he was shot from a distance of just two metres, he showed colleagues photos of the president's supporters with sophisticated weapons. His camera was stolen after he was shot, as colleagues went to his aid.

Other journalists were injured during the night as they covered the clashes. They included Mohamed Azouz of the government newspaper Al-Gomhuria, Osama Al-Shazly of the daily Al-Badil, Islam Abdel Tawab of Al-Alam Al-Yawm, Sahar Talaat, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale's Spanish service and an ON-TV journalist.

Two journalists with Turkey's TRT television, reporter Mehmet Akif Ersoy and cameraman Adil Ahmet, were attacked earlier yesterday in Tahrir Square and their equipment was damaged.

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