Journalists march on top prosecutor’s office, complain of police violations

Hundreds of Egyptian journalists staged a march through central Cairo to the High Court on Thursday, and filed a complaint against Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar and the head of Cairo Security Directorate over police violations against journalists on April 25, a day on which activists had planned large-scale anti-government protests.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, the board of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate condemned the random arrests of journalists who were covering anti-government protests on Monday, which was also Sinai Liberation Day.
"What happened during April 25 demonstrations cannot be tolerated, and those responsible for it must be held  accountable," said the Journalists Syndicate Chairman Yehia Qalash.
"What happened was unacceptable and sad, and came at a time when the syndicate was seeking to end media chaos through the application of media legislation that would govern [journalism] and ensure the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression of every Egyptian citizen," Qalash added.
Qalash apologized to TV host Ahmed Moussa for a warning directed at him by the syndicate, saying the warning was based on false claims that Moussa had called for journalists to be arrested.
Khaled al-Balshy, the syndicate's undersecretary, said the headquarters building in downtown Cairo was besieged on Monday after being cordoned off by security forces anticipating large anti-government protests.
"The day started calmly. But by noon, the syndicate's task force had received ten complaints… because with the beginning of the demonstrations a violent campaign against journalists started," Balshy said.
Many were besieged and others were arrested, he added.
By the end of the day, 46 journalists had been arrested, said Balshy, adding that thugs were used to frighten journalists outside the syndicate's headquarters.
The incidents of April 25 were a continuation of demonstrations in the previous weeks protesting against the transfer of two Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi control. On Friday April 15, journalists had gathered outside the syndicate's headquarters to protests against the handover of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, and further such protests were planned for Monday.
Donzens of Central Security Forces vehicles besieged the building, sending a message to journalists that further protests would not be tolerated, said Gamal Abdel Rahim, secretary general of the syndicate.
"This syndicate has challenged all political regimes and no regime can challenge it," he continued.
"The arrest of journalists was intended to humiliate the syndicate, which conveys the truth," said board member Hanan Fekry.
Journalist Karem Yehia read a letter sent by editor-in-chief of Amr Badr saying that at 4 a.m. last Friday, security personnel stormed his house with a warrant from the general prosecution.
The raid sent his family into a state of panic, as security officers searched the house, seizing various items, including his laptop, he said.
Badr said he will file a complaint with the chief prosecutor over the incident.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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