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Al Jazeera English crew arrested in Egypt

The logo of Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite news channel
The logo of Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite news channel

REUTERS/ Fadi Al-Assaad

The Egyptian authorities' policy of silencing opposing media outlets, especially the Al Jazeera network that has been repeatedly attacked since 3 July 2013, has been again condemned by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

On 29 December, security forces apprehended members of the Al Jazeera English crew while they were conducting interviews at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo. Bureau Chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Cameraman Mohamed Fawzy, and Correspondent Peter Greste were detained in an unknown place without being referred to the Prosecution or being officially charged. Their equipment was also confiscated.

This was the latest incident in a string of attacks on Al Jazeera bureaus around Egypt. The network's office in Cairo had been previously stormed into by security officers, and in a separate incident, the Egyptian cabinet had issued a decision to shut it down and prevent it from working in Egypt.

An Al Jazeera Mubasher reporter, Abdullah Al-Shami, and cameraman Mohamed Badr are still being detained pending investigations over charges of using violence following their apprehension in August 2013 during their coverage of clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

This latest attack on journalists affiliated with the Al Jazeera network came a few days after the Al-Huriya & Al-Adala (Freedom and Justice) newspaper, belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, was banned.

Such a move and others before it convey the political authority's allowing of the security offices to make decisions in regards to media outlets and opinion makers, which threatens the future of media freedoms in Egypt and damages any potential democratic transformation.

"These attacks on journalists by security forces or by different political groups have turned Egypt into a dangerous place to be for media professionals which constitutes a real setback in the quest to achieve the revolution's goals," stated ANHRI. "It also reinstates the police state that is based on repressing and gagging dissidents. Therefore, these matters raise our doubts regarding the current authority's intention to fulfill its promises to support the democratic trajectory in Egypt. It is particularly inconceivable to achieve democracy through an authority that wastes rights and public freedoms."

ANHRI calls on Egyptian authorities to suspend the repressive practices of the dissolved state security body, which has been reinstated under the name "National Security". It also demands that the fate of the abducted Al Jazeera English crew be revealed and that they be released. It is also necessary to make public the reasons and motives for their arrest, and to accordingly hold those who breach the law accountable.

What other IFEX members are saying
  • IPI urges Egypt to release journalists

    “No journalist should face arrest, charges, imprisonment or any other form of harassment or intimidation for doing their job – which includes reporting about the views of different groups in society,” said IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi.

  • Egypt arrests Al-Jazeera journalists, seizes equipment

    "The Egyptian government is equating legitimate journalistic work with acts of terrorism in its efforts to censor critical news coverage," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa coordinator. "We condemn these arrests and call upon Egyptian authorities to release the journalists immediately."

  • IFJ calls for immediate release of Al Jazeera journalists arrested in Egypt

    "Egypt has a duty to adhere to its obligations according to international law," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We call for authorities in the country to end this abuse of power and release all of the Al-Jazeera journalists currently being detained with immediate effect."

  • Four Al-Jazeera journalists arrested arbitrarily in Cairo

    "Al-Jazeera is one of the leading targets of this campaign of harassment. The authorities have not hesitated to close its offices and arrest its journalists arbitrarily. This campaign seems to have crossed a new threshold with the government’s decision on 25 December to add the Muslim Brotherhood to its list of terrorist organizations."

  • Egypt continues to target Al Jazeera journalists

    Al Jazeera has denounced the arrests of its staff members as an act designed to “stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network’s journalists.” The Egyptian government’s hostility towards journalists affiliated with the Qatari-based network has been prompted by what many Egyptians perceive as “a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bias in the network’s coverage of the events unfolding in Egypt”.

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