Souad Mekhenet og Nicholas Kulish er to journalister fra New York Times, der blev taget til fange af Mubaraks frygtede hemmelige politi, Mukhabarat.
De led ikke selv nogen overlast under deres fangenskab, men de fik et uhyggeligt indtryk af, hvordan regimet i disse dage slår ned på almindelige mennesker, der vover at udtrykke deres utilfredshed i de store demonstrationer:
Our discomfort paled in comparison to the dull whacks and the screams of pain by Egyptian people that broke the stillness of the night. In one instance, between the cries of suffering, an officer said in Arabic, “You are talking to journalists? You are talking badly about your country?”
Captivity was terrible. We felt powerless — uncertain about where and how long we would be held. But the worst part had nothing to do with our treatment. It was seeing — and in particular hearing through the walls of this dreadful facility — the abuse of Egyptians at the hands of their own government.
For one day, we were trapped in the brutal maze where Egyptians are lost for months or even years. Our detainment threw into haunting relief the abuses of security services, the police, the secret police and the intelligence service, and explained why they were at the forefront of complaints made by the protesters.
The Mukhabarat has had a working relationship with American intelligence, including the C.I.A.’s so-called rendition program of prison transfers. During our questioning, a man nearby was being beaten — the sickening sound somewhere between a thud and a thwack. Between his screams someone yelled in Arabic, “You’re a traitor working with foreigners.”
Egyptian journalists had a freer hand than many in the region’s police states, but the secret police kept a close eye on both journalists and their sources. As the protests became more violent, a campaign of intimidation against journalists and the Egyptians speaking to them became apparent. We appeared to have stumbled into the middle of it.
Ms. Mekhennet asked her interrogator, “Where are we?” The interrogator answered, “You are nowhere.”
Som Nicholas D. Kristof, som også er i Cairo for New York Times, udtrykker det: I dag er vi alle ægyptere.