CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – An American freelance journalist detained in Egypt over his coverage of recent economic unrest said Friday he had been released but was staying in a police station to protest the arrest of his translator.
The journalist James Buck said he and his Egyptian translator were detained Thursday in the northern city of Mahalla el-Kobra, home to the Middle East’s largest textile factory, where riots broke out earlier this week over high prices and low wages.
Buck, speaking to The Associated Press by telephone Friday from inside the Mahalla police station, said the state prosecutor had ordered his release early Friday along with his translator Mohammed Saleh Ahmed. But as soon as they stepped outside the prosecutor’s office in Mahalla, a police officer re-arrested them. He said that Friday morning he was told he was free to go, but his translator Mohammed Saleh Ahmed was still being held.
“I started a hunger strike and I will not leave without my translator,” Busk said.
Buck, a graduate student at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Journalism, is a freelance journalist, photographer and graphic designer who recently contributed material to The Oakland Tribune in California. He said police detained him as he was taking photos of families who were holding a hunger strike to protest the arrest of their relatives. Buck said he was interrogated for about 45 minutes but was not harmed. He said his camera’s memory card had been confiscated.
Word of Buck’s arrest first appeared on a Egyptian political blog Arabawy (http://arabawy.org) to which Buck contributes.
Buck traveled to Mahalla from Cairo four times this week and had been harassed several times by the police who threatened him, according to the blog’s author, Hossam el-Hamalawy.
Shortly after his arrest Thursday evening, Buck sent a text message to his own Web site, http://twitter.com/jamesbuck, with one word: “Arrested.”