The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on authorities today in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya to cease their attempts to prevent media from reporting on anti-government demonstrations. Bahraini authorities used live ammunition - including fire from a helicopter - against peaceful protesters and journalists, according to news reports. Pro-government thugs attacked at least two journalists in Yemen, and the Libyan government appeared to be shutting access to Facebook, Twitter, and Al-Jazeera’s website as a means of silencing reporting on protests.
“Security forces firing on journalists from a helicopter is a dangerous escalation in Bahrain’s attempt to censor media coverage of the political turmoil,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “The authorities must cease all hostile acts against journalists immediately and allow the press to work freely and securely. ”
- According to the New York Times, “forces in a helicopter that had been shooting at the crowds opened fire at a Western reporter and videographer who were filming a sequence on the latest violence.” The targeted journalists were Times reporter Michael and Times video producer Sean Patrick Farrell, the paper reported.
- Sixteen foreign journalists from BBC, CNN, McClatchy Newspapers, CBS, and other media outlets were detained at the airport and not allowed to enter the country for several hours, according to local journalists and news reports.
- A local journalist speaking on the condition of anonymity told CPJ that independent journalists are receiving threats via phone and text messages to stop reporting on the crackdown.
- An unidentified foreign photographer was injured and seen being taken to a hospital, according to local journalists.
- On Friday, pro-government supporters attacked the bureau chief for Al-Arabiya in Yemen, Hamoud Munser, and the station’s unidentified cameraman, who was taken to a hospital, according to local journalists. A correspondent for the Iranian station Al-Aalam TV, Awsan al-Qaatabi, was also attacked and beaten along with Qatar TV cameraman, Yaser al-Maamari. Wadah al-Yemen Abdel Qader, a reporter for Hadith Al-Madina, was detained today in Taiz governorate in central Yemen, local journalists told CPJ.
- On Thursday, Tom Finn, the UK Guardian’s correspondent in Sana’a, was attacked by a group of men who tried to confiscate his camera.
- Twitter, Facebook, and Al-Jazeera’s website were blocked, according to multiple news reports.
- Al-Jazeera’s broadcast was jammed on Arabsat, the network reported on the air. It continues to broadcast from other satellites.
- Protesters in Benghazi took over a state radio station and are broadcasting live online, according to Foreign Policy. “The radio commentary itself is gripping, with breathless amateur announcers calling on the international media to cover what ‘the criminal Qaddafi’ is doing and warning fellow Libyans about ‘foreign mercenaries,’” the magazine reported.*
(Source: Committee to Protect Journalists)
* Al-Arabiya TV reported at 0106 gmt this morning that demonstrators burnt down the headquarters of the local radio in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, after security forces had withdrawn from the radio station.
(Source: Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic 0106 gmt 19 Feb 11 via BBC Monitoring)