Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Cairo who was held by the military outside Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Monday, has spoken to the network about the experience following his release.
“As we have been for the past several weeks, we’ve been reporting daily from Liberation Square, and yesterday as I was making my way into Liberation Square I was essentially stopped by the Egyptian military,” said Mohyeldin.
“There was a young recruit there … who asked me for my identification. And when I presented him with my identification, he asked me ‘What you are coming to do?’.”
“I simply said I was a journalist, I didn’t really have any major equipment on me, just a small camera and my cellphones.
“Immediately it seemed like he was taken aback, suprised perhaps by my identity. At that time they didn’t know who I was working for, and they didn’t ask me, really.
“It was just the mere fact that I was a journalist who was trying to go into Liberation Square that seemed to be enough for them to take me for further questioning.”
Mohyeldin describes how he was taken to a separate holding area, where he was handcuffed with plastic strips, had his equipment taken off him and was interrogated.
At least two other journalists were already present at the holding area.
Other detainees appeared to have been severely beaten, intimidated and at least one person broke down in tears under the pressure.
While foreign journalists were released fairly quickly, Mohyeldin and a Reuters cameraman of Palestinian descent were held for an extended period.
All of the detainees who were released were told to sign a document that said that they would not attempt to return to Tahrir Square without permission from the military.