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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Egyptian Journalist Was Killed by Army Sniper He Filmed, Family Says

An image posted online by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party of Ahmed Assem, 26, a photographer for the Islamist movement's newspaper who was killed on Monday. An image posted online by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party of Ahmed Assem, 26, a photographer for the Islamist movement’s newspaper who was killed on Monday.

As The Lede reported on Monday, one of the most widely viewed images of the clashes in Cairo that morning, which left more than 50 dead, was a harrowing snippet of video that appeared to show an army sniper firing down at Islamist protesters from a rooftop, before turning his gun to take aim at the camera.

Video posted online Monday, said to show an Egyptian soldier firing down at Islamist protesters from a rooftop in Cairo.

After the video began to spread on social media â€" becoming, for many Islamists, emblematic of what they described as a massacre of peaceful protesters by the Egyptian military that deposed President Mohamed Morsi last week â€" an editor at the Muslim Brotherhood’s official newspaper told The Telegraph that the footage had been recorded by a young colleague who was himself shot and killed moments after the recording ended.

The photographer was Ahmed Assem, 26, who was brought to a morgue in Cairo later in the day with a bullet hole in his chest. In an interview with a reporter from The Times on Monday, the dead man’s father, Dr. Samer Assem, said that his son had been working for the Brotherhood’s newspaper since the 2011 revolution, against the wishes of his family, who did not share his Islamist politics. Dr. Assem said the Brotherhood had “brainwashed” his son and was responsible for his death.

On Wednesday, though, the victim’s brother said in a telephone interview that the family planned to take legal action against the soldier, whose image was captured on video a split-second before the fatal shot was fired.

Eslam Assem, the older brother of the photographer, said Ahmed’s friends contacted the family members on Tuesday to give them the video. “They gave it to us and said it was the last one on his camera, the last one he made before he got shot and fell,” said Mr. Assem, 29, a police officer.

His upper-class family members had been opposed to his younger brother’s affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and worried after they learned of his death that he had been involved in violence against the army. But Mr. Assem said the video vindicated his brother.

“Before we saw the video, I knew that he was a photographer, but I did not know what he doing there,” he said. “But once I saw the video, I knew that he wasn’t doing anything and that they shot him because he was filming.”

He said the family was considering legal action against the shooter in the video. “I thought that Ahmed had been killed randomly while he was running and the bullets were flying, but the video shows that he was killed deliberately,” he said. “I won’t be quiet about this.”

He said the killing had devastated the family and that the whole neighborhood was sad over the death of a social kid they all called “bunduq,” or “hazelnut.”

“I was very worried about him and I used to argue with him a lot, but he loved his work and he jumped into it,” he said.

Several other video clips recorded during Monday’s street fighting between the military and the Islamist protesters also showed snipers firing down from rooftops.

Video posted online on Monday appeared to show a sniper firing at Islamist protesters in Cairo.

A video tribute to the dead journalist, circulated by @Ikhwanweb, the Brotherhood’s English-language Twitter feed, set photographs of Mr. Assem to music. The montage ended with a close shot of his dead body and his bloody camera.

A video tribute to Ahmed Assem, titled “A Martyr of the Army’s Betrayal.”

Liam Stack contributed reporting.