Category: Press Releases, MENA, Egypt

IPI urges Egypt to release journalists

Team detained Sunday accused of spreading ‘false news’

Riot police take their positions during clashes with Al-Azhar University students who support the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Morsi, at the university's campus in Cairo's Nasr City district on Dec. 29, 2013. Students clashed with security forces on Sunday, with police firing teargas and sound blasts into the campus in an attempt to disperse the demonstration in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the latest in a long-running series of protests at this and other universities in the capital. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

VIENNA, Dec 31, 2013 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today joined calls urging Egyptian authorities to release four Al Jazeera English (AJE) journalists detained in Cairo on Sunday.

State security agents reportedly interrogated the four journalists yesterday in connection with interviews they conducted with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government recently labelled a “terrorist organisation”.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry in a statement accused the journalists of broadcasting illegally from a makeshift bureau in a Cairo hotel, spreading “false news” and “damaging national security”. The journalists were also accused of possessing materials promoting “incitement”.

“We urge Egyptian authorities to immediately release the journalists it is holding and to return their belongings and equipment,” IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said. “No journalist should face arrest, charges, imprisonment or any other form of harassment or intimidation for doing their job – which includes reporting about the views of different groups in society.”

The journalists taken detained on Sunday include Nairobi-based correspondent Peter Greste, AJE bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo-based producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy.

Two other Al Jazeera journalists also remain in custody in Egypt. According to the network, correspondent Abdullah Al-Shami was detained on Aug. 14 while covering demonstrations in Cairo's Rabaa Square and Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr cameraman Mohamed Badr was arrested on July 16 in connection with an investigation into his coverage of clashes at Ramses Square.