Two Al Jazeera Egypt staffers arrested for 'illegal possession of transmission equipment'

Ahram Online , Friday 20 Sep 2013

Employees of Qatari channel Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr detained in Cairo over alleged illegal possession of transmission equipment

The logo of Al Jazeera Media Network is seen at the MIPTV, the International Television Programs Market, event in Cannes 2 April, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Two staffers at Al Jazeera's Egyptian channel Al Jazeera Mubashr Misr have been detained for allegedly possessing illegal transmission equipment, according to a judicial statement.

They were arrested at an Al Jazeera Mubashr Misr office in Cairo's Agouza district on Thursday and ordered to be detained for four days pending investigations. Authorities also seized "unlicensed" equipment.

Prosecutors said they were informed that Al-Jazeera Mubashr Misr was "broadcasting news from three apartments in Agouza using unlicensed cameras, encryption, broadcast and telecommunication equipment."

Taher Saad and Hammam Mazen, a Palestinian, are accused of possessing and operating wireless equipment and broadcasting audiovisual content without required licenses.

Al Jazeera's offices in Cairo have been closed since 3 July, when they were stormed by security forces hours after Morsi was toppled. The channel has transferred much of its broadcast equipment to Qatar.

The network has opened legal proceeding in international courts and before the United Nations over the alleged harassment of its staff and the jamming of its signals by the Egyptian authorities.

“Al Jazeera offices and journalists have come under attack by the military, police and unofficial groups supporting the military government, while the network has been subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation involving the jamming of transmissions and broadcasts, as well as the closure of its offices and other facilities,” the network said in a statement via its legal team.

“Al Jazeera cannot permit this situation to continue,” a network spokesman added.

Early in September, Egypt expelled three journalists from Al Jazeera's English-language news channel. Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Abdullah Al-Shami Abdullah Al-Shami has been detained since August, and Mubashr Misr cameraman Mohammad Badr has been referred to a criminal court, along with dozens of Morsi supporters, over allegations including attempted murder.

Egyptian authorities have accused the Qatari network and some local media outlets of pro-Muslim Brotherhood bias when reporting the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Cairo's relations with Qatar have soured since Morsi's overthrow. The Gulf emirate had been a firm backer of Morsi's Brotherhood and gave Egypt $7.5 billion in aid during his turbulent year in power.

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