The Broadcasting Board of Governors strongly condemns the recent threats of violence leveled against journalists reporting for Alhurra Television in Egypt. Unidentified individuals entered Alhurra’s Cairo news bureau earlier today and threatened to kill Alhurra’s two on-air journalists – Akram Khuzam and Tarek El Shamy – if they didn’t leave the building. The bureau was immediately closed. Similar threats were made at the production facility for Alhurra’s flagship program “Al Youm.” The staff had not yet arrived for the show and the unidentified individuals eventually left the building.
In addition, a pamphlet circulating currently throughout Cairo calls for government supporters to attack Alhurra and Al-Jazeera journalists. Just yesterday, one of Alhurra’s correspondents was harassed by pro-Mubarak protesters before leaving him in the streets of Cairo.
“We recognize that many media organizations face similar threats and acts of violence and call upon the Egyptian government and security forces to permit journalists to report on events without fear of reprisal,” said Walter Isaacson, chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees all U.S. international broadcasting including Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa. “Alhurra and Radio Sawa are crucial sources of information about the unfolding events in Egypt. The freedom for our team, along with other news outlets, to report the news is essential to restoring order in a tumultuous environment.”
While regular bureau activities have been relocated, Alhurra continues to have exclusive live shots of Tahrir square and reports via telephone from eyewitnesses in the square and elsewhere in downtown Cairo. The situation in Cairo is chaotic and it is hard to tell who is behind the attacks against journalists. After its overt suppression of access to the Internet and other social media in the early days of citizen protest, the Egyptian Ministry of Information has begun to interfere with journalists covering the events, limiting access to satellite uplinks, or even terminating satellite signals outright.
Despite these obstacles, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa are providing critical live coverage of events from Cairo and Alexandria. As Egypt enters its 10th day of protests, Alhurra is broadcasting live continuous coverage, and continues to increase the use of social media to connect audiences across the Arabic-speaking world.