Skip to main content

Al Jazeera demands release of journalists still held by Egypt

By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 2:18 PM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four Al Jazeera journalists were arrested, the network said
  • Al Jazeera calls the arrests "arbitrary," slams "harassment" of network
  • The Egyptian government says at least one journalist met with Muslim Brotherhood members
  • The government recently declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization

(CNN) -- The Egyptian government released on Tuesday one of four Al Jazeera journalists it had detained Sunday night, but continued holding the other three employees of the news network, which is demanding their release.

Correspondent Peter Greste, producer Mohamed Fahmy, producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy were taken into custody Sunday evening in Cairo, the network said.

Fawzy was released Tuesday morning; the other three men remained in detention and appeared Tuesday before magistrates, Al Jazeera 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.

Fahmy worked for CNN and The New York Times prior to joining the Qatar-based network; Mohamed is a Cairo-based producer for the network.

The ministry said the Muslim Brotherhood member used the hotel to meet with other members and as a media center to broadcast damaging news about the government for Al Jazeera.

"It is outrageous to be treating bona fide journalists in this way," said Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, in a statement. "The allegations that are being made are totally false and unfounded. We operate in Egypt legally, the team were working on a number of stories to show our viewers around the world all aspects of the ongoing situation in the country, and every member of our team has huge experience carrying out the highest quality journalism with integrity."

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 deadliest countries for journalists. Seventy journalists were killed in 2013, with six of those deaths in Egypt, the CPJ said.

Egypt's current round of political turmoil began on July 3, when President Mohamed Morsy was ousted in a military coup.

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

CNN's Josh Levs and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Egypt
Visit CNN Arabic for full election news and updates in Arabic.
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
CNN's Reza Sayah explains Egypt's presidential election.
updated 12:55 PM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
Minute changes by Egypt's next leader may not be sufficient to bring genuine stability, writes H.A. Hellyer.
updated 11:59 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
Supporters of Egyptian leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi (portrait) attend a campaign meeting in Cairo.
Both presidential candidates have made lofty promises. But has either offered specifics on how the economy?
updated 4:06 AM EDT, Sun June 8, 2014
CNN's Reza Sayah profiles the leading contender in Egypt's presidential election, ex army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
updated 4:09 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Hamdeen Sabahi is considered a heavy underdog in the race for Egypt's presidency, but he's sure he's going to win.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
A court in Cairo sentences ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison for embezzlement.
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
An Egyptian man waits for tourists to take them on camel rides at the Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo on February 14, 2011.
Instead of focusing on antiquities, Egypt's new "We miss you" video features dancers, malls and ritzy hotels.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Former Arab League head Amre Moussa says presidential favorite Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is right to stand up to "terrorists."
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Can music heal the rift of revolution and conflict in Egypt? CNN's Reza Sayah meets the Egyptian band trying.
updated 5:20 PM EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
Egypt's former military chief doesn't mince words when he describes what would happen if he wins the presidency.
updated 5:37 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Are threats of sexual violence an everyday reality for women in Cairo?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour sends letter to the family of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Sun March 9, 2014
CNN's Sara Sidner talks about stepping in for Al Jazeera reporters since they have been barred from working in Egypt.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Sat March 15, 2014
How are the Arab Spring nations faring? What successes can they boast and what challenges await?
ADVERTISEMENT