Egypt Cracks Down on Foreign Journalists
Two 'New York Times' reporters briefly detained
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2011 11:01 AM CST
French photojournalist Alfred Yaghobzadeh is treated by anti-government protesters after being wounded during clashes in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, Feb. 2, 2011.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Egyptian authorities launched a systematic crackdown on the press today, rounding up journalists and sending armed gangs through the streets to attack anyone with camera equipment. Two New York Times journalists were detained overnight, and then released this morning, the paper reports. In addition to the gangs, the government has stationed “spotters” with binoculars outside many hotels to scan balconies for camera crews, al-Jazeera reports. When they spot one, they radio police to raid the hotel.

The government says the journalists aren’t being arrested—they’re being taken into “protective custody.” The state-run news agency has asked all foreign journalists to evacuate Tahrir Square, ostensibly for their own safety. The government has also targeted human rights groups, according to the Times. Security forces raided a law center that had been a staging ground for several non-governmental organizations, ordering everyone to lie on the ground and confiscating their cellphones. Two people were taken for interrogation.