Journalist defends Gilad Shalit TV interview

By Ruth Eglash, October 27, 2011

Shahira Amin, the Egyptian state TV journalist who interviewed Gilad Shalit as he was handed over by Hamas to Egyptian mediators, said her goal had been to show Arabs "that both sides pay a price in this conflict".

Following the impromptu interview, which was aired live around the world, Ms Amin was sharply criticised by Israeli journalists and officials who deemed the timing and her questions shockingly inappropriate.

However, in her response to the critics, Ms Amin, who became an icon of the Egyptian revolution earlier this year when she quit her job as deputy head of Nile TV International, said that her goal had been to raise awareness of the soldier's ordeal among Egyptians and Arabs.

"I felt it would earn Shalit the compassion he deserves," she said, adding: "Many in Egypt are outraged that I gave him this platform, saying I made a hero out of him."

Ms Amin said that she met Shalit immediately after he had been seen by the Red Cross and had already communicated with his family.

Red Cross spokesman Hicham Hassan has told Forbes magazine's Richard Behar that "ICRC representatives met Mr Shalit briefly after his transfer to the Egyptian authorities. However, he was not met by an IRC doctor as this had not been solicited."

Despite the presence of a masked Hamas member during the interview, Ms Amin said: "If there was any coercion behind the scenes, I am not aware of it."

Ms Amin told Mr Behar in an email exchange that she "had" to ask whether Shalit would "help campaign for the release of the 4,000 Palestinian prisoners still languishing in Israeli prisons", suggesting that she had received editorial instructions from her employer, Egyptian state television.

Last updated: 11:17am, October 27 2011