A team of journalists working for Al Jazeera English were detained by security forces in Egypt on Sunday evening for allegedly meeting with Muslim Brotherhood members and broadcasting false news. The Muslim Brotherhood, the political party that ran the country before being overthrown by the military earlier this year, was declared a terrorist organization last week.
On Sunday night, Al Jazeera announced that correspondent Peter Greste, producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy had been arrested by the Egyptian government. "Al Jazeera demands the immediate release of their journalists," the TV network said.
The detained journalists are not amateurs: Fahmy is Al Jazeera's Cairo bureau chief, has worked for CNN and The New York Times, and Greste won a Peabody award last year working with the BBC. All are experienced veterans used to covering Cairo's chaotic politics.
Their greatest crime seems to be reporting on recent clashes between government-backed security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. The New York Times reports Egypt's interior ministry accused the journalists of reporting "false news" that "damaged national security." The army seized cameras, recordings and other equipment from their hotel rooms in Cairo, according to the BBC. The Times adds that the interior ministry said the journalists "possessed materials that promoted 'incitement,'" including pamphlets about the Muslim Brotherhood.
The military-backed government has cracked down on the Brotherhood ever since ousting President Mohammed Morsi back in July. The military declared the Brotherhood is a "terrorist group" last week, after an attack on a police station killed 16 people, even though al-Qaeda affiliated group claimed responsibility. The Brotherhood was banned from Egyptian politics in October.
Egypt has become increasingly dangerous for journalists since President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power over the summer. The Committee to Protect Journalists recently named Egypt one of the most dangerous countries to work in. This also isn't the first time the new government has clashed with Al Jazeera, either. Military troops raided the TV network's Cairo office in July hours after Morsi lost power.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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