CAIRO — Security forces and gangs chanting in favor of the Egyptian government hunted down journalists at their offices and in the hotels where many had taken refuge on Thursday in a widespread and overt campaign of intimidation aimed at suppressing reports from the capital.
By evening, it appeared that none of the major broadcasters were able to provide live footage of Tahrir Square, the epicenter of antigovernment protests. Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya television networks said their journalists had been hounded from the street and from the vantage points above the square where cameras had been placed, and both CNN and BBC appeared to be relying only on taped footage of the square. Jon Williams of the BBC said via Twitter that Egyptian security had seized the news agency’s equipment from the Cairo Hilton “in an attempt to stop us broadcasting.”
The Egyptian state news agency had earlier asked foreign reporters and crews to move out of all the hotels near the square.
The Committee to Protect Journalists was investigating at least two dozen cases of reporters being detained. According to the group, the government told the journalists that they were not being arrested, but rather were being taken into “protective custody.”