EGYPT: Reporter who was shot last week dies at local hospital

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An Egyptian reporter shot last week has died, the first journalist killed in street clashes, an Egyptian newspaper reported Friday.

Reporter Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, was shot during clashes in Cairo last week and died Friday at a local hospital according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.


Al-Ahram says Mahmoud was photographing clashes on the Cairo streets from the balcony of his home, not far from Tahrir Square, when he was ‘shot by a sniper’ on Jan. 28.

The paper says Mahmoud worked as a reporter for Al-Taawun, one of a number of newspapers published by Al-Ahram.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Friday that the Obama administration continues ‘to receive very disturbing reports’ of ‘systematic targeting’ of journalists in Egypt.

Gibbs reiterated the administration’s position that there needs to be ‘direct negotiations toward an orderly transition’ of power in Egypt, according to the Associated Press. Instability is likely to continue until ‘concrete steps’ are taken toward free and fair elections, the press secretary told wire reporters.

Meanwhile, reporters and bloggers in Egypt were posting online, detailing their clashes with Egyptian security forces.

Blogger and activist Hossam El-Hamalawy is tweeting and has posted a video complete with a Google map in Arabic pinpointing his location in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of this week’s protests. Some have questioned whether police have used such online maps and Twitter feeds to locate and detain journalists.

Soon after posting a video with one of the maps, Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas tweeted that he had been arrested by the army.

‘Army released us, but getting stopped by every single checkpoint,’ Abbas tweeted a few hours ago, warning in Arabic that the army is in search of foreigners and cameras.

‘We are getting arrested every 5 minutes now for looking like foreigners and having a camera and a laptop !!!’ he wrote. ‘We almost got handcuffed by army in abbasiya for having a camera till a high ranking officer released us.’

Sonia Verma and Patrick Martin, reporters with Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, were attacked Friday by a mob of regime supporters they were observing in a wealthy part of Cairo on Friday.

Verma tweeted about the attack, which ended when the pair were able to take shelter in a nearby home.

‘They helped us: A police man, a security guard and a woman with four children who gave us shelter. ‘We will not let them hurt you’,’ Verma wrote.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based media watchdog, had recorded 24 detentions of journalists, 21 assaults and five cases in which equipment was taken away during a 24-hour period as of Thursday.

CBS News said Friday its foreign correspondent, Lara Logan, and cameramen Don Lee and Max McClellan were released after being held for a day by the Egyptian military, and are headed back to the United States. Logan had been stationed in the northern town of Alexandria.

A Swedish journalist was still recovering Friday from being stabbed in the back Thursday, and Czech public television reported Friday that it was withdrawing its TV crew from Egypt because of what it called “unprecedented” attacks on reporters.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. Not a single media outlet in Egypt today has escaped the violence,” Jean-Francois Juillard, the head of Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, told the Associated Press. “It’s totally impossible to work as a journalist in Egypt today.”

In a statement, French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie condemned “the unacceptable incidents that have compromised the security” of journalists from French media outlets, including TF1, France 2, BFM and France 24 television channels and Le Monde newspaper.

Alliot-Marie said in a separate statement Friday, she was “especially worried about the fate of three French journalists and a researcher about whom French authorities have no news.”

She said she contacted her Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and asked him to do everything he could to ensure that the four are located and released.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske