Swedish reporter stabbed in Cairo drama
Published: 03 Feb 2011 16:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Feb 2011 22:27 GMT+01:00
Swedish public broadcaster SVT said Thursday evening one of its reporters covering unrest in Cairo, who it had lost contact with for several hours, had received serious "knife injuries."
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The reporter, "Bert Sundström is seriously injured. He is now at a hospital in Cairo and is being operated on for knife injuries," SVT said on its website.
"It remains unclear what happened when he was hurt," it added.
Earlier Thursday, the broadcaster had said it had lost contact with Sundström and feared he was being held by the Egyptian military.
The reporter had participated in a live broadcast at midday.
However, when his producer called him for another report from Tahrir square two hours later "a voice in Arabic answered and said Bert was being held. Then the connection cut," producer Robert Wiström told SVT.
According to a Swedish translation posted on SVT's website, the voice said:
"Your man is being held by the military. You sons of whores, if you want him back you will have to come get him. Your man is held by the Egyptian government. He is alive and awake."
On Sunday, two other SVT reporters were arrested but released shortly after, SVT said.
"We're seeing a tendency and receiving reports of journalists being systematically attacked and that they're being detained by both the military and security forces, but also by all out mobs," foreign ministry spokesperson Anders Jörle told the TT news agency.
"We're concerned about these developments and hope that editors are aware of them," he said, adding that the foreign ministry's own resources in Cairo are currently under tremendous strain.
"It's not easy for the embassy to help out," he said.
Sundström's hospitalisation comes amid several reports of violence meted out to foreign journalists covering the unfolding political upheaval in the Egyptian as tensions heated up between protestors calling for Mubarak's ouster and supporters of the regime.
World leaders, rights activists and media organisations have denounced the numerous attacks and harassment of journalists attempting to report on the turmoil in Egypt, with the US ambassador in Cairo condemning a "concerted campaign" of intimidation against international journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was looking into at least 10 cases of journalists who had been detained on Thursday, the New York Times reported.
"The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions," Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The government has resorted to blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs."
According to the group, the Egyptian government has labeled to detentions as "protective custody" rather than arrests.
Bildt also expressed his concern for journalists covering events in Egypt in conversations Thursday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
"Naturally, my concerns also addressed the current situation and its escalating violence which also includes attacks on journalists," Bildt said in a blog post.
He also emphasised that "the Egyptian government has a duty to protect individuals' lives and rights, including the right to peacefully express their opinions."
According to Bildt, Aboul Gheit ensured him that newly appointed Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman planned to launch a dialogue with opposition forces regarding constitutional changes which Bildt characterised as "a precondition for having genuinely free elections."