Reporters on the Job

My 'Protection': Staff writer Jill Carroll and her interpreter were out interviewing people in the streets of Algiers Tuesday, asking them about whether they were going to vote or not (see story).

"Most people were surprisingly open. We walked over to two elderly men. I barely got my first question out before the policeman came over angrily and demanded to know if we had approval to be talking to people," says Jill. Turns out she was next to the president's offices, where security is particularly tight. She and her interpreter were marched to a police van and taken to a local station. "They were friendly but told us we needed to get a badge from the Ministry of Communications. After about an hour of questioning, they let us go."

But later that evening, Jill was summoned to her hotel lobby where two secret police were waiting. "They were there for my 'protection' and every time I came and went from the hotel I had to tell them."

The next morning, they were waiting in the lobby and dispatched a secret policeman to escort Jill to the Ministry of Communication, "Despite my insistence that I could manage alone," she says. "He walked with me in the street, rode in the taxi with me, stuck to me like glue. He was friendly and chatty, but I'm worried that people won't talk to me if my escort stays this close the rest of my stay here."

Of course, that may be precisely the intent.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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