Egypt detains three al-Jazeera journalists

Arrests signal escalation of crackdown

Cairo University students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed president Mohamed Mursi shout slogans at the university’s campus. Photograph: Reuters

Cairo University students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed president Mohamed Mursi shout slogans at the university’s campus. Photograph: Reuters

Mon, Dec 30, 2013, 20:42

Egypt’s security forces have detained a team of journalists working for al-Jazeera English, arresting three men in a dusk raid on an office and apprehending a fourth from his home, on charges of “spreading false news” and holding meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The arrests signal an escalation of the crackdown against voices critical of Egypt’s military-backed government, in a week in which the Muslim Brotherhood was formally designated as a terrorist organisation and hundreds of its supporters arrested.

Police arrived at al-Jazeera’s temporary work suites in Cairo’s Marriott hotel on Sunday night, arresting bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and correspondent Peter Greste. A freelance producer was also detained.

Greste, an Australian, previously worked with the BBC, CNN and Reuters. Fahmy is known for his coverage of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, the focal point of a military operation against jihadist groups.

A third employee, Mohamed Fawzy, was arrested at his home at about the same time.

The Qatari-owned al-Jazeera network has faced mounting pressure from the Egyptian authorities since former president Mohamed Morsi was deposed on Julyrd. Its Egyptian outlet, al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, is one of the few remaining channels perceived as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood.
– (Guardian service)