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Al Jazeera demands Egypt release Cairo team

Broadcaster urges "immediate and unconditional release" of detained journalists, calling the arrests "arbitrary".

Last updated: 31 Dec 2013 20:05
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Al Jazeera has condemned the ongoing detention of its journalists held by Egyptian authorities since Sunday night and demanded their immediate release.

Al Jazeera under fire in Egypt in 2013
  • June 28: AJMM's Mohammad Farhat beaten by gangs, spending two weeks in intensive care.
     
  • July 3: AJA crew detained inside AJA bureau for six hours. Ahmad Hassan detained for four days.
     
  • July 12: Five AJE crew members detained in Suez for a few hours.
     
  • July 15: AJMM's Mohammad Bader arrested and in custody for 15 days. Detained until mid-September.
     
  • August 14: AJA's Abdulla al-Shami arrested for 15 days, then on August 27 detained for another 12 days. Mohammed el-Zaki shot by snipers at Rabaa al-Adawiya.
     
  • August 27: AJE's Baher Mohamed detained and released after two days. Wayne Hay, Adil Bradlow and Russ Finn detained for five days and deported to UK.
     
  • August 14: AJMM crew detained and beaten for hours and equipment confiscated.
     
  • August 29: Shihab El-Din, AJMM executive producer, detained for two days.
     
  • September 1: Mostafa Hawwa detained for one day and equipment confiscated.

Award-winning Nairobi-based correspondent Peter Greste, Al Jazeera English producer Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo-based producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy were arrested by security forces on Sunday evening.

Fawzy was later released, but Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed remained in detention and appeared before magistrates on Tuesday.

A legal adviser said that Mohamed will be detained in Tora prison, outside Cairo, until he is brought before a prosecutor for questioning. This is due to happen on January 4.

Fahmy, also in Tora prison, will be questioned on Wednesday, as will Greste, who remains in custody at the police station.

The arrests follow a period of sustained intimidation towards Al Jazeera staff, property and coverage since the military-orchestrated removal of President Mohamed Morsi in July.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network's spokesperson said of the latest arrests: "We condemn the arbitrary arrest of Al Jazeera English journalists working in Cairo and demand their immediate and unconditional release.

"Al Jazeera Media Network has been subject to harassment by Egyptian security forces which has arrested of our colleagues, confiscated our equipment and raided our offices despite that we are not officially banned from working there."

These arrests are part of what Reporters Without Borders has called growing hostility towards journalists in Egypt.

There has also been a campaign against Al Jazeera in particular as the channel's offices were raided in August and security forces seized equipment which has yet to be returned.

Al Jazeera called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release all its detained staff unconditionally along with their belongings and equipment.

Greste is a veteran journalist who previously worked for Reuters, CNN and the BBC over the past two decades.

Human-rights groups say conditions for journalists in Egypt have become difficult since Morsi was removed by the military on July 3, 2013.

The latest arrests come after a series of clashes between police and Muslim Brotherhood supporters across Egypt.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Monday that Egypt, Syria and Iraq have become among the deadliest countries for journalists to work in.

In a special report released by the New York-based organisation said conditions in the country had "deteriorated dramatically".

"Amid stark political polarisation and related street violence, things deteriorated dramatically for journalists in Egypt, where six journalists were killed for their work in 2013."

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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