NEW YORK (AFP) – Top CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan suffered a brutal sexual assault at the hands of a mob in Egypt while covering the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak, the network has said.
Logan was in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Friday, the day Mubarak stepped down, and was separated from her crew in the crowd, the US television network said in a statement.
“She and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy,” CBS said. “In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew.”
Logan “was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.”
She was flown to the United States the next day and “is currently in the hospital recovering,” the statement said.
The separation and assault lasted between 20 and 30 minutes, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited a person familiar with the matter. The source added that it was “not a rape.”
The CBS statement said “there will be no further comment from CBS News and correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.”
South African-born Logan, 39, has covered the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, becoming one of the US media’s most recognizable war correspondents. She became CBS News chief foreign correspondent in 2006.
At least 140 reporters since January 30 have been injured or killed while covering the Egypt protests, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said.
On February 2 Logan reported from Alexandria that soldiers and plain-clothes agents prevented her and her crew from filming in the street, and marched them at gunpoint to their hotel.
“We were accused of being more than journalists,” Logan reported. “Very frightening suggestions were being made, suggestions that could be very dangerous for us.”
The following day soldiers detained her and her crew in Cairo and interrogated them overnight, then told to leave Egypt.
“We were detained by the Egyptian army,” Logan told The Politics blog of Esquire magazine. “Arrested, detained, and interrogated. Blindfolded, handcuffed, taken at gunpoint, our driver beaten. It’s the regime that arrested us.”
“They kept us in stress positions — they wouldn’t let me put my head down. It was all through the night. We were pretty exhausted,” Logan said.
“We were accused of being Israeli spies. We were accused of being agents. We were accused of everything,” she told Esquire, as she was boarding a plane to return to Egypt to cover Mubarak’s downfall.
The CPJ said it was “alarmed” by the news of the assault on Logan.
“We have seen Lara’s compassion at work while helping journalists who have faced brutal aggression while doing their jobs,” CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger said. “She is a brilliant, courageous, and committed reporter.”
Logan is a CPJ member that oversees an aid program supporting journalists around the world who have been victims of violence and repression.