Two Egyptian journalists, mistakenly believed to work for the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera channel, were briefly arrested Sunday by Egyptian authorities in the Sinai Peninsula.
While covering an ongoing security offensive against North Sinai-based militants, journalist Azza Moghazy and photojournalist Sabry Khaled – both from the independent daily Al-Shorouk – were seized Sunday afternoon in the hotel where they resided.
"Police and army forces stormed Moghazy's room after they broke the door open and did not even wait for her to wear her headscarf," Khaled told Ahram Online.
Khaled described being repeatedly beaten by security personnel as he was taken from the hotel to the provincial security directorate. "Being Al-Jazeera reporters or having [any other] affiliation does not warrant such treatment," he added.
Both journalists were released two hours later "without probe" after security officials apologised for the mistake. Khaled said the incident was not immediately reported out of "fear for [their] lives" until their safe return to Cairo late on Monday.
The Egyptian authorities' crackdown on Al-Jazeera was prompted by accusations against the Qatari network of unprofessionally biased in favour of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The authorities recently arrested several of Al-Jazeera's Cairo-based staffers charging them with license violations and closed down its offices.
A strong financial backer of the Brotherhood, Qatar fiercely condemned Morsi's deposition and the ensuing crackdown on his movement.
Along with a number of Al-Jazeera reporters now facing trials, journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa of the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm is also facing a military trial over allegations of spreading lies about the army.