IFJ Condemns "Desperate Tactics" as Egypt Targets Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on Egypt

to end the crackdown on journalism and media which has led to numerous beatings

of media staff and censorship of television and communications networks. As the

political crisis has intensified with renewed protests in the streets the

regime of President Hosni Mubarak has become ever-more desperate to stop media

coverage of the uprising.

Media reports say that the Government last week blocked websites and the

Qatari- based international broadcaster, Al-Jazeera has been taken off the air.

Its office in Cairo has been shut down and staff were arrested, their film

confiscated. The studios of the French public broadcaster, France 2 have also

been shut.

"This targeting of media is desperation on the part of a regime that is

in the brink of collapse," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It makes a

mockery of the Government's talk of dialogue to restore calm."

According to a statement from Al-Jazeera, five Cairo-based staff were

arrested following the Government's decision over the weekend to withdraw the

broadcaster's licence and its journalists' accreditation in the country. They

were released today.

The move against Al-Jazeera comes days after access to websites in Egypt

was blocked ahead of the major streets protests of last Friday. Reports also say

the studios of French TV, France 2, have been closed and one camera damaged,

according to the SNJ-CGT, an IFJ affiliate in France.

The

IFJ, which last week denounced police violence against journalists and warned

the authorities over their responsibility for media safety, says the latest

measures cast doubt over the Government's willingness to change.

"Shutting

down media as a public space for dialogue is no way for showing genuine

commitment to a tolerant debate on the country's future," added White. "The

authorities are failing the basic test of open democracy by stifling free

press."  

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 members in 125 countries