Greg Palkot and cameraman Olaf Wiig — the Fox News journalists that were severely beaten and hospitalized in an attack in Egypt on Wednesday — were accused of being Israeli spies during the ordeal, TheWrap has learned.
According to a source close to the network, after Palkot and Wiig were attacked, they were rushed to al Damarash hospital with severe injuries. They were then detained by military police, who accused the pair being Israeli spies. "Palkot was blindfolded throughout," the source said.
Also read: Fox News Team Badly Beaten in Cairo
Executives at Fox News immediately contacted the White House. In turn, the State Department contacted the U.S. embassy in Cairo and Egypt's ambassador in Washington, which helped secure their release on Thursday morning.
Palkot and Wiig were above Tahrir Square when the attack happened, Fox News' John Roberts said on the air Thursday afternoon.
"They were forced to leave their position when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at it," Roberts said. "A large fire erupted. They were forced to flee. They ran out and ran right into the pro Mubarak crowd and were severely beaten."
As TheWrap previously noted, Fox News did not report Palkot and Wiig's attack on Wednesday out of concern for their safety. "It was a a very tense 24 hours at Fox News," the source said.
Palkot (pictured) and Wiig were not the only Fox journalists to be targeted in Egypt. Fox Business Channel’s Ashley Webster reported "that security officials burst into a room where he and a camera operator were observing the demonstration from a balcony," according to wire reports. "They forced the camera inside the room." Webster called the incident “very unnerving” and said via Twitter that he was "trying to lay low."
They were also not the only journalists in Cairo accused of being spies, either. Jon Bjorgvinsson, a correspondent for Iceland’s RUV but on assignment for Swiss television, was attacked on Tuesday as he and a crew were filming, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported. "The journalist and his team were apparently accused of being foreign spies, according to Icelandic news website Ice News. Bjorgvinsson was 'knocked to the ground, his camera was broken, and his clothes were ripped.'"
Wiig is no stranger to danger on the job. In 2007, he and correspondent Steve Centanni were taken hostage in Gaza. The pair was released two weeks later.