Former Houston Press writer Mike Giglio, who is now a correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, retold the chilling story of being detained, beaten and ultimately released by Egyptian police during protests in the capital city of Cairo on Wednesday. Giglio was one of a number of foreign journalists detained along with demonstrators during protests against the current military government, which overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in early July.
In the story he wrote for The Daily Beast on the incident, he tells of being slapped and punched in the face by police because he refused to give up the password for his laptop computer. Stories like Giglio's seem unfortunately commonplace during these kinds of protests, but when it is someone you know, it really hits home.
Finally the man I took to be the one in charge--a stout older guy in a black beret--stepped in and demanded the password. I apologized again and declined. So he slapped me hard. Asked for the password again, I declined again, and so he slapped me again. At one point there were several cops punching and slapping me in the head, so I relented and typed in the password. They took a special interest in the file labeled Sisi, with basic reporting on the head of the armed forces, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Then they took the laptop away.
Soon after, an angry cop walked up and punched me in the jaw. Eventually another cop grabbed me by the shirt and started perp-walking me over to a waiting blue paddy wagon. He was proudly announcing to the crowd of cops that I was an American, and a couple of times he jabbed me in the face with the hand holding my shirt as he said that.
Giglio was ultimately taken to a sports arena where he was detained with protesters and several other foreign journalists before he was released. The protests have turned violent in recent days as the military attempts to crack down on demonstrators.
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Fortunately, he was not seriously hurt in the incident.