Toronto-based documentary filmmaker and activist John Greyson has been detained in Cairo along with his traveling partner Dr. Tarek Loubani. A mutual friend of the pair, Justin Podur, told media this weekend that Loubani called him at 10PM local time on Friday to say he and Greyson were being arrested by Egyptian police. The timing reportedly means they were out after a curfew imposed on the city amid the upheaval there. Their whereabouts are currently unconfirmed. Greyson won a Teddy at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival for his documentary Fig Trees and received a special jury citation at the Toronto Film Festival for his 1993 feature Zero Patience. In 2009, he caused a stir when he pulled his short, Covered, from Toronto in protest over a planned spotlight on films from Tel Aviv. Greyson and Loubani were headed to Gaza where Loubani was to carry out medical relief work. Greyson was joining him to do some exploratory work, Podur told The Toronto Star, but the border was closed. A spokeswoman for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said the embassy in Cairo “is in contact with local authorities and we are prepared to provide consular assistance.”
In what is the most gruesome attack against an U.S. journalist in Egypt so far, CBS News is reporting that its chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan suffered “a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating” on Friday, the day Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down. She was covering the festivities in Tahrir Square for a 60 Minutes story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a mob of more than 200 people. Logan was eventually separated from her crew and was brutally assaulted before a group of women and soldiers came to her rescue. Logan, who has a 2-year-old son, was quickly flown back to the U.S. and is recovering in a hospital.
The news shows how volatile the security situation in Egypt continues to be. The U.S. networks dispatched some of its top news anchors to Cairo when the protests first started, but after several prominent TV journalists, including Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour and Fox News correspondent Greg Palkot, were attacked by angry mobs, most of anchors left Egypt.
Fox News correspondent Greg Palkot, who, along with his camerman were badly beaten by demonstrators in Cairo on Wednesday, this morning gave a pretty fascinating firsthand account of the events in a post on foxnews.com. Here it is:
CAIRO, Egypt – It was Wednesday afternoon. We were covering the clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters near Tahrir or Liberation Square in Cairo.
A short time after we started our shooting, cameraman Olaf Wiig was threatened by a small group of pro-Mubarak thugs.
We ducked down an alley. It turned out to be a dead end, so we dashed into a nearby building.
At first it was a perfect vantage point to cover the street battle. Then it quickly turned into a battle station for the pro-government side.
Egypt is rapidly becoming a very dangerous place for foreign journalists. On the heels of the attacks on Fox News’ Greg Palkot, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour, an NBC News crew has been carjacked by a group of angry Egyptian men and threatened with beheading. According to ABC News, its producer Brian Hartman, cameraman Akram Abi-hanna and two other ABC News employees were surrounded on a crowded (and considered safe) road that leads from Cairo’s airport to the city’s downtown area.
Hartman told ABC that it was only through the appeal of Abi-hanna, who is Lebanese and a veteran ABC cameraman, that they were saved from being killed or severely beaten. “We thought we were goners,” Hartman said . “We absolutely thought we were doomed.”
A total of 30 journalists from different countries have been targeted by protesters in Egypt in the past few days.
UPDATE FRIDAY: Greg Palkot this morning wrote a pretty fascinating firsthand account of the ordeal. Read it here:
PREVIOUS: FOX News Channel’s veteran foreign correspondent Greg Palkot and his camerman Olaf Wiig have suffered severe injuries in Cairo while covering the unrest in the Egypt capital. Palkot was badly beaten and Wiig has a possible broken jaw after being attacked by pro-Hosni Mubarak supporters yesterday. Both were hospitalized overnight. Out of concern for the safety of its journalists, Fox News kept the incident a secret until their release from the hospital today. Now more details explaining the network’s decision to keep the attack quiet have emerged. Sources at Fox News confirm that at the hospital, Palkot and Wiig were detained by military police and accused of being Israeli spies, prompting the network’s executives to seek help from the State Department. In 2007, the same camerman, Olaf Wiig, was taken hostage in the Gaza strip with correspondent Steve Centanni. They were released 2 weeks later.
This marks the most brazen attack yet on American journalists in Egypt where violence has been escalating, with 10 anti-Hosni Mubarak protesters killed over the past 24 hours in Tahrir Square alone. Yesterday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour and CBS News’ Katie Couric were confronted by angry mobs supporting Mubarak but left largely unscathed. Additionally, an ABC News crew was carjacked by angry Egyptian men and threatened with beheading …
Veteran correspondents and former network-mates Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour both said today that they were attacked by mobs in Egypt where the unrest is escalating. Here is Cooper’s video account of his violent encounter with pro-Hosni Mubarak supporters and video of Amanpour’s more peaceful confrontation with Mubarak followers.