Foreign journalists in custody in Egypt on security charges


Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - Page 1

Egyptian secret police have arrested an award-winning Australian journalist and an Egyptian reporter for the Qatar-based al-Jazeera channel on suspicion of illegally broadcasting news harming “domestic security,” the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior said.

Al-Jazeera confirmed the arrests in a statement, adding that police had also detained a producer and a cameraman.

Officers raided the journalists’ makeshift bureau at a Cairo hotel on Sunday, arresting two of them and confiscating their equipment, the ministry said in a statement.

It did not identify the journalists, only mentioning that one was a “Muslim Brotherhood member” and the other an Australian.

Al-Jazeera English identified them as Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Adel Fahmy and Australian reporter Peter Greste, adding that producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzi were also arrested.

The raid came after Cairo listed the Brotherhood movement of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi as a “terrorist organization,” making membership in the Islamist group or even possession of its literature.

The journalists “broadcast live news harming domestic security,” the ministry said, adding they were also found in possession of Muslim Brotherhood “publications.”

Greste, a former BBC journalist, won the prestigious Peabody Award in 2011 for a documentary on Somalia. Fahmy, who formerly worked with CNN, is a well-known journalist in Cairo with no known links to the Brotherhood.

Egypt’s military-installed government cracked down on al-Jazeera’s affiliates after Morsi’s ouster in July, accusing it of pro-Brotherhood coverage.

Several al-Jazeera reporters remain in detention, including Abdullah Elshamy, who was arrested on Aug. 14 when police dispersed an Islamist protest camp in Cairo, killing hundreds in clashes.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report that Egypt came third for number of journalists killed on the job this year, after Syria and Iraq.