Lara Logan, an American journalist who endured a similar assault in
Tahrir Square last year, said she believed recent attacks on
international journalists -- and on foreign and local women in Egypt -- were directed by remnants of the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.
"It's a systematic campaign against journalists, who are enemies of the state," Logan told the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based press freedom group, this week.
"They want to get the foreign media out," Logan added. "They don't
want foreigners from the media, aid organizations, or doing democracy
work. We are regarded as a threat to the regime."
The assault on Logan last year prompted dozens of female journalists
to break a code of silence and disclose previous sexual assaults. In the
four months after the attack, 52 female reporters disclosed to the
Committee to Protect Journalists that they had experienced varying
degrees of sexual violence -- from rape by multiple attackers to
aggressive groping -- in retaliation for their work or while reporting.
The victims included 27 local journalists from the Middle East, South
Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Twenty-five international journalists
reported being assaulted, including two who said they had been raped.
Several male journalists said they had been sexually abused when in
detention or captivity. Most of the attacks occurred in the last five
years. A small number date back 20 years.
"Many of the assaults fall into three general types," CPJ said in a June 2011 report entitled "The Silencing Crime".
"Targeted sexual violation of specific journalists, often in reprisal
for their work; mob-related sexual violence against journalists covering
public events; and sexual abuse of journalists in detention or
Journalists are also dying. This year, Syria has the world's highest
death toll. So far, 12 Syrian and foreign journalists have perished
while covering the conflict there.
In February, government forces fired rockets at a makeshift press
center used by Syrian and foreign journalists in the city of Homs after
apparently tracking satellite telephone signals from the site. The
attack killed the Syrian blogger Anas al Tarsha, French photographer
Remi Ochlik and American journalist Marie Colvin. The Syrian government
has also tried to use spying software to track Syrian anti-government activists, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet free-speech group.
Around the word, technological innovations are giving journalists in
developing countries larger audiences and more power, according to
advocates at this week's conference, which was organized by the International Press Institute. States, in turn, are trying to silence reporters in multiple ways.
In Guatemala, a recently enacted law makes sparking a "bank panic"
a criminal offense. The practical result is that journalists are barred
from examining the performance of banks and other financial