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Jan 26 2011 12:06 PM

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Beaten and Detained, The Guardian's Cairo Correspondent Stays on the Job

There has been some remarkable reporting out of Egypt as angry demonstrations continue against the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

But for sheer guts, professionalism and composure under duress, nothing comes close to the audio report filed early on in the protests by Jack Shenker, The Guardian's Cairo correspondent.

With remarkable discipline, Shenker provides a dispassionate account of having been rounded up by Egyptian security forces and transported with more than 40 others in the dead of night to an uncertain fate in a remote location in the desert.

Shenker's report, which unfolds in real time and has been widely circulated via his Twitter feed, began early Wednesday as he wound up a day of reporting on the demonstrations near Tahrir Square, Cairo's central plaza. Caught up in a sweep by plainclothes police chasing demonstrators suspected of burning a police car, he found himself in custody, along with more than 40 others. Punched and slapped, relieved of cellphone and wallet and bundled into a truck with the others, some wounded and bleeding profusely, Shenker managed to keep hold of his dictaphone, and commenced a quiet commentary of their ride through the night.

As the truck purposely swerves and abruptly starts and stops – inflicting even more injuries on the prisoners inside – Shenker provides a running description of events that sets a high standard for crisis reporting, capturing every element of the danger and drama. His tone is quiet, remarkably calm. 

Ultimately, the truck stops about 12 miles out of town:

"...At the door they are beating people...the door is open, people are being hauled out by police, and beaten...It's completely disorienting, very confusing," he says. "Suddenly, police seem to be falling back and we are charging out of the truck...We're physically forcing our way out, we burst out of the truck. People have run out into the street."

The experience does not seem to have slowed down Shenker's reporting. "My arrest & beating last night was just a shallow taste of what 100s of Egyptians are going through daily in Mubarak's security state," he reported on Twitter. 

Read Shenker's full report on the ordeal here.  Read The Guardian's continuously updated NewsBlog on the Egyptian protests here

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