Egypt's interior ministry said on Sunday that it has arrested an Egyptian producer with the Qatari-based news network Al-Jazeera for "incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos".
The ministry said in an official statement that Al-Jazeera’s head of Egyptian correspondents Mohamed Hussein Gomaa was arrested at a residence in Giza, where police confiscated thousands of video tapes and production equipment.
The High State Security Prosecution has ordered that Gomaa be detained for 15 days pending investigation.
According to the ministry statement, Gomaa used several residences to “avoid security monitoring in light of Al-Jazeera's unauthorised work in the country and its failure to obtain the needed licences.”
The ministry added that Gomaa was instructed by Al-Jazeera to “hire several journalists to produce fabricated media content against the state and its institutions.”
“The scheme by Al-Jazeera, which Gomaa was tasked with carrying out, aimed to instigate crowds to overthrow the government, amplify factional problems, and organise media campaigns against the state through online groups,” the statement read.
On Friday, Al-Jazeera announced the arrest of its journalist, who it said worked at the channel’s Egypt bureau office in 2013 before it was shut down by the state.
The network said that Gomaa, who currently resides in Doha, arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a vacation.
“Al-Jazeera holds Egyptian authorities responsible for the safety of Hussein and is calling for his immediate release,” the network said in a statement.
Egypt has long accused Al-Jazeera of carrying out a hostile media campaign against the country since relations between Cairo and Doha soured following the ousting in 2013 of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, a key ally of the Gulf country.
This is not the first time that Al-Jazeera journalists have faced arrest and prosecuted in Egypt for “publishing false news.”
Al-Jazeera's broadcast journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested in December 2013 and sentenced to prison two years later.
The two journalists were pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in September 2015.