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Journalist killed, Turkish outlet raided in Egypt

Checkpoints like the one above have been set up all over Egypt. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

New York, August 20, 2013--Egyptian security forces killed a journalist and wounded another at a military checkpoint late Monday. Authorities also raided a Turkish news agency and arrested its bureau chief, the reports said.

Security forces shot at a vehicle carrying two journalists near a military checkpoint in the city of Damanhur in Beheira governorate on Monday evening, according to news reports and the surviving journalist. Tamer Abdel Raouf, Beheira bureau chief for the state paper Al-Ahram, was killed and Hamid al-Barbary, Beheira bureau chief for the state newspaper Al-Gomhuria, was wounded in the attack. The journalists had just left a meeting with the new governor of Beheira, al-Barbary said.

Al-Barbary told CPJ that as they approached the checkpoint with Abdel Raouf driving, soldiers gestured to them, telling them to leave the area, so Abdel Raouf turned the car around. The soldiers then opened fire on the car, al-Barbary said, and Abdel Raouf was hit in the head. The car swerved and hit a light pole.

An army spokesman issued a statement late Monday that said the car had "raised suspicion by driving at high speed during curfew hours near a military checkpoint without reacting to calls to stop or to warning gunshots in the air." The statement said the soldiers thought the car was trying to escape from the checkpoint.

Al-Barbary disputed the statement, saying, "There were no warning gunshots or even any calls for us to stop" after the car turned around.

Al-Barbary told CPJ that the shooting happened after 6 p.m. but before the curfew, which begins at 7 p.m. In its statement, the army said the attack occurred during curfew hours.

The curfew was imposed by authorities on Wednesday after security forces dispersed two sit-ins supportive of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, igniting a week of violence that has left nearly 1,000 people dead. Journalists are officially exempt from the curfew.

The military said it has opened an investigation into today's incident, reports said.

"Egyptian authorities should conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the killing of Tamer Abdel Raouf," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. "Tragically, the number of journalist deaths in Egypt has mounted quickly, and hopes for democratic rule in Egypt have faded just as fast."

Some news reports have characterized the death as accidental, citing journalists' permission to be out after curfew. The shooting came after armed militants killed at least 25 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai city of Rafah, news reports said.

Egyptian authorities early today raided the Turkish news agency Ihlas and arrested Tahir Osman Hamde, its Cairo bureau chief who is a Dutch citizen, according to news reports. The agency was using a hotel room as an office. The reports said that the agency's broadcast equipment was also confiscated.

Ihlas' foreign desk chief, Muharrem Serhen, told The Associated Press that Hamde has "the necessary permits" to work in Egypt. Authorities have not yet disclosed any charges against him.

The Egyptian prosecutor's office ordered a 15-day extension in the detention of Metin Turan, a journalist for the Turkish public broadcaster TRT, who was arrested on Saturday, news reports said. The extension came despite a statement by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç on Monday that said he expected Turan to be released that day.

The Turkish government has been extremely critical of the interim government in Egypt since Morsi's ouster. Turkish journalists have been subject to obstruction, detentions, and assaults. In a nationally televised speech today, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of plotting Morsi's overthrow, news reports said.

"The raid on Ihlas is only the latest example of the Egyptian government cracking down on local and international media for political reasons," said CPJ's Mansour.

  • For more data and analysis, visit CPJ's Egypt page.

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