Israeli Journalists Arrested, Released, Amid Cairo Melee

The journalists were arrested while filming and broadcasting news reports; some members of the group were accused of violating curfew orders.

Three Israeli journalists and an Israeli guide were arrested yesterday morning in Cairo by Egyptian police but were released in the afternoon after the Israeli Foreign Ministry intervened.

The four were nabbed after entering Egypt as tourists without obtaining Egyptian press credentials or the necessary approval from the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv. They were arrested while filming and broadcasting news reports. Some members of the group were accused of violating curfew orders.

Three of the freed detainees are from the Channel 2 investigative-news show "360": reporter Yifat Glick, a photographer and the guide they hired. The fourth freed detainee is a journalist from an Israeli Arabic-language website.

The four are not the first Israeli journalists detained since the unrest began in Egypt. Channel 10 reporter Moav Vardi, who has a foreign passport, was arrested overnight between Sunday and Monday while filming in Cairo.

A source at Channel 10 said he was arrested and taken to a police station after it was clear he was from Israel. He was released after several hours.

In recent days a number of journalists have been arrested while covering the demonstrations.

The highest-profile incident involved the detention of six reporters from Qatar-based Al Jazeera television, an outlet Egypt accuses of incitement against the regime. But yesterday, after street battles escalated, many journalists got caught up in the violence.

For example, Israeli journalist Gideon Kutz was attacked; he was reporting for Israeli Radio's Reshet Bet and the daily Maariv. Kutz was assaulted by demonstrators during clashes between supporters and opponents of President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Additional victims of the violence included CNN television reporter Anderson Cooper, two Associated Press reporters and a Belgian journalist. Cooper said he had been struck by Mubarak supporters. CNN said in a statement that Cooper and his crew were only lightly injured.

According to the Belgian media, the injured reporter from Belgium who was attacked was detained for questioning and accused by plainclothes policemen of espionage.

The organization Reporters without Borders said it received dozens of reports yesterday of violence against local and foreign journalists in Egypt, and the U.S. State Department said it was concerned.

The detentions and attacks against the news crews coincided with Egyptian state television's reports that tried to portray opponents of the regime as violent.

The switch in programming came as restrictions on the Internet were being lifted in Egypt.

A spokeswoman for Reporters without Borders, Tala Dowlatshahi, said state television's programming was part of a specific strategy; the station had been broadcasting soap operas and cooking shows up to that point.