Journalist Mona Eltahawy Tells of Sex Assault in Cairo Ministry

Journalist Mona Eltahawy says it is only her dual citizenship that saved her from worse treatment at the hands of Egyptian riot police. Photograph: Dirk Eusterbrock

The prominent US-Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy has described a brutal sexual and physical assault that she says she suffered after being arrested by Egyptian riot police during a 12-hour ordeal inside Cairo's interior ministry.

Eltahawy, who writes for publications including the Guardian and the Toronto Star, says she had bones broken in both wrists by security officials, who also grabbed her breasts and genitals.

The award-winning Eltahawy, 44, told her story in a series of tweets at the time of her arrest and after her release.

The incident came amid growing concern over arrests and assaults on journalists, both by the security forces and others. A Spanish photographer was taken to hospital after being beaten up and having his equipment stolen, while an unidentified woman reporter was reported to have been set upon in Tahrir Square by protesters on Thursday and allegedly beaten and stripped in an incident reminiscent of the attack earlier this year on the US television correspondent Lara Logan.

Eltahawy was arrested on Wednesday night near Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the narrow street near Tahrir that has been the scene of some of the worst clashes between protesters and security forces.

Around 11pm GMT she wrote: "Pitch black, only flashing ambulance lights and air thick with gas." She then described the violence occurring around the gates of the American University in Cairo.

"Can't believe it. A cacophony of sirens, horns, flashing ambulance lights." In a penultimate tweet she appeared to write "Beaten arrested in interior ministry."

series of dramatic tweets on Thursday morning began with the words: "I am free." A few minutes later she reported: "12 hours with interior ministry bastards and military intelligence combined. Can barely type – must go xray arms after CSF pigs beat me." As she would discover later, they had broken her left hand and her right arm, leaving one hand so badly swollen she could not close it.