31 December 2013, 11:37

Al Jazeera reporters detained in Egypt, accused of ties with Muslim Brotherhood

Al Jazeera reporters detained in Egypt, accused of ties with Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptian security forces have arrested four Al Jazeera journalists. The government declared that at least one of them met with members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Correspondent Peter Greste, Bureau Chief Mohamed Fahmy, producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy were taken into custody Sunday evening in Cairo, the press reported.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page that security forces arrested a Muslim Brotherhood member and an Australian journalist at a Cairo hotel. Greste, an Australian, previously worked for CNN, Reuters and the BBC.

Egyptian police said the Al Jazeera English bureau — which had been broadcasting from a suite at the Marriott hotel following the closure of its Arabic-language sister channel during a military coup in July — was being used as a meeting point and media center for members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s military-backed government has long accused Al Jazeera, whose Qatari patrons are allies of the Brotherhood, of being in a close contact the organization.

Security forces have arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in recent weeks as demonstrations and attacks have worsened the relations between the Islamist movement and the state.

The network demanded the journalists be immediately released.

Calling the arrests arbitrary, Al Jazeera said the network "has been subject to harassment by Egyptian security forces," including having its equipment confiscated and offices raided, despite the network not being banned from working in Egypt.

The arrests occurred the day before the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a report saying Egypt, Syria and Iraq have become the most dangerous countries for journalists. Seventy journalists were killed in 2013, with six of whom - in Egypt.

Egypt's current round of political turmoil began when former President Mohamed Morsy was removed from office in a July 3 coup.

Last week the military-backed government defined the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Police and members of the Muslim Brotherhood have clashed in the streets since then.

Voice of Russia, CNN, Al Jazeera

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