A shocking breach of the First Amendment

Photo (cc) 2016 by Paul O'Brien.
Photo (cc) 2016 by Paul O’Brien.

The detention of a Canadian photojournalist at the US border is a shocking breach of the First Amendment. Ed Ou says he was stopped on October 1 as he was trying to fly to Bismarck, North Dakota, to cover the Standing Rock protests. According to the New York Times, his phones were confiscated so that authorities could look at his photos, possibly endangering the subjects of those photos.

The Obama years have not been good ones for freedom of the press, as I’ve written in the past. They’re going to get a whole lot worse under Donald Trump, with his call for upending the libel laws and with his thuggish manservant Corey Lewandowski demanding that Times executive editor Dean Baquet be locked up for publishing Trump’s partial tax returns.

The United States currently ranks 41st in press freedom, according to Reporters WIthout Borders. We could be considerably lower than that the next time the ratings are readjusted.

Talk about this post on Facebook.

NU graduate among journalists detained in Egypt

Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel, the Washington Post’s Cairo bureau chief and a 2004 graduate of Northeastern University, is reportedly among a number of journalists who have been detained by Egyptian authorities. According to the Post, Fadel, staff photographer Linda Davidson and a translator who was working with them have been taken into custody. (See update below.)

“We understand that they are safe but in custody, and we have made urgent protests to Egyptian authorities in Cairo and Washington,” Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl is quoted as saying. “We’ve advised the State Department, as well.”

Mubarak’s Egypt is surely not Iran or North Korea, but the situation for reporters has been deteriorating in the past few days. In one high-profile incident, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was assaulted. Journalists at Al Jazeera, whose coverage has been invaluable, have come under attack and harassment as well. The New York Times reports:

The attacks on journalists started almost as soon as violent clashes began on Wednesday near Tahrir Square, as orchestrated waves of pro-government forces swept in, using rocks, bats, and knives and Molotov cocktails against the anti-government protesters.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has a round-up of incidents involving journalists. Says CPJ official Mohamed Abdel Dayem: “The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions.”

More from Reporters Without Borders.

Update (2 p.m.): Fadel tells the Washington Post that she and Davidson have been released. Several local Post employees remain accounted for and are believed to be in custody.