The Arab Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI), a Cairo-based human rights watchdog, has condemned the Egyptian government for the arrest of four Al-Jazeera English journalists and the authorities’ “ongoing use of gag policy”.
The statement released late Monday night detailed the repeated government crackdown on the Al-Jazeera networks in Egypt since Mohamed Morsi’s 3 July ouster, including arrests, raids on their offices, confiscation of equipment, imprisonment and the closure of its channels.
The arrest of the Al-Jazeera crew along with the closure of the newspaper of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party are indicative of an escalating crackdown against opposition media, a step which “damages any potential democratic transformation,” read the statement.
“ANHRI calls on Egyptian authorities to suspend the repressive practices of the dissolved state security body, which is reinstated under the name “Homeland Security,” read the statement. “It also demands to reveal the fate of the Al-Jazeera crew that was abducted by security bodies and to release them. It is necessary also to announce reasons and motives of their arrest, and to hold those who breach the law accountable.”
The United States government, too, commented on the recent rash of “politically motivated” arrests in Egypt.
“We remain deeply concerned about all of the politically motivated arrests, detentions and charges in Egypt,” said US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf in a Monday press briefing. “As we’ve said, these actions raise questions about the rule of law being applied impartially and equitably, and do not move Egypt’s transition forward.”
Four journalists working for Al-Jazeera were detained in Cairo on Sunday night on charges of publishing information “harmful to national security” and meeting with the recently-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
They were arrested at the Marriott Hotel in Zamalek where they were using two suites as a temporary base of operation. Security forces confiscated broadcasting and production equipment along with literature supporting a Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored student strike, and the Ministry of Interior has claimed that the rooms were used to host meetings with the Brotherhood.