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Alleged Al Jazeera journalist arrested in Port Said

Female journalist arrested in Port Said on charges of airing false news, says the interior ministry

Ahram Online , Friday 30 May 2014
Rasha Gafaar
Rasha Gafaar, an alleged employee of Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Egyptian authorities have arrested what they say is a female member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was broadcasting videos for Qatar's Al Jazeera network, the interior ministry said on Friday.

The woman – referred to as Rash S. – was arrested on Wednesday at an apartment in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, where she was allegedly broadcasting videos directly for the network's Egyptian channel, the ministry and state news agency MENA said.

MENA earlier identified the woman as a reporter of the Qatar-owned channel and said prosecutors ordered her to be detained for 15 days pending investigations on allegations of airing false news about Egypt.

The defendant has "admitted to illegally broadcasting videos to Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr in return for an amount of money," read the ministry's statement.

During the arrest, officials seized her broadcasting equipment as well as print materials inciting against the army, some of which displayed the four-fingered Rabaa sign, a symbol used by supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi since his ouster last July.

Officials of Al Jazeera could not be immediately reached for comment friday.

Egyptian authorities have cracked down on the Qatar-based networking, accusing it of bias in favour of the Brotherhood and Morsi. The Qatari broadcaster has repeatedly denied the claims. All the network's offices in Egypt were shut down following Morsi's ouster – although the channel, broadcast from Doha, can still be viewed inside Egypt. 

Most pressingly, several of the station's reporters have been rounded up by police and detained.

Abdullah El-Shamy, an Al Jazaera journalist who has been in jail for nine months, has been on hunger strike for over four months to protest his detention. Local and international rights groups have called for his release.

Three other Al Jazeera journalists who work for the network's English-language channel have been held in Egypt since December while facing trial for charges including airing false news and aiding or joining the Brotherhood, which was outlawed in the same month.

Seventeen other co-defendants face the same charges in the trial, which will resume on 1 June.

The trial has sparked an international outcry, with the US, European Union and international rights groups and news organisations calling for the release of the men.

 
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