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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Egyptian-American journalist: I was sexually assaulted by police

Sexually assaulted: Mona Eltahawy, an international activist and columnist, tweeted that she had been blindfolded and beaten by Egyptian Police

A prominent Egyptian-American journalist says she was sexually assaulted, blindfolded and beaten by security forces during a terrifying 12-hour detention in Cairo's interior ministry.

Mona Eltahawy took to Twitter on Thursday to describe her nightmare experience.

Before the alleged assault, the 44 year old was reporting in Tahrir Square, where clashes between demonstrators and police have rocked Cairo since for several days.

On Wednesday, she described the scene as pitch black, the ground littered with rocks and the air as being thick.

But three hours later she tweeted, "Beaten arrested in interior ministry."

Eltahawy wrote she was surrounded by half a dozen officers who "groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers."

A columnist for several newspapers such as the Toronto Star and the Jerusalem Report, Eltahawy said she was eventually handed over to military police, who blindfolded for two hours.

"Didn't want 2 go with them but 1 said I either go politely or else," she tweeted.

The writer said authorities eventually apologized and let her go, but gave no explanation for her arrest.

The former Reuters Middle East correspondent tweeted pictures of her battered hand.

"My right hand is so swollen I can't close it," she tweeted alongside a photo.

A U.S. Embassy rep told The Guardian in London that the report was "very concerning" and that "U.S. embassy consulate officers are engaging Egyptian authorities."

Other journalists, including American-Egyptian filmmaker Jehane Nojaim - best known for the documentary "Control Room" - say they too were also detained this week.

In February, CBS reporter Lara Logan said she was mobbed and sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square while covering the Egyptian protests.

The latest standoffs come less than a week before the country's first parliamentary elections since the ouster of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. Demonstrators want military rulers to relinquish power immediately.

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