Al Jazeera has condemned the arrest of four of its journalists held by Egyptian authorities since Sunday night and demanded their immediate release.
Award-winning Nairobi-based correspondent Peter Greste, Al Jazeera English bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo-based producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy have been held in custody since their arrest by security forces on Sunday evening.
The arrests follow a period of sustained intimidation towards Al Jazeera staff, property and coverage since the military-orchestrated removal of President Mohamed Morsi in July.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network’s spokesperson said of the latest arrests: “We condemn the arbitrary arrest of Al Jazeera English journalists working in Cairo and demand their immediate and unconditional release.
“Al Jazeera Media Network has been subject to harassment by Egyptian security forces which has arrested of our colleagues, confiscated our equipment and raided our offices despite that we are not officially banned from working there.”
These arrests are part of what Reporters Without Borders has called growing hostility towards journalists in Egypt.
There has also been a campaign against Al Jazeera in particular as the channel’s offices were raided in August and security forces seized equipment which has yet to be returned.
Al Jazeera called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release all its detained staff unconditionally along with their belongings and equipment.
Greste is a veteran journalist who previously worked for Reuters, CNN and the BBC over the past two decades.
Human-rights groups say conditions for journalists in Egypt have become difficult since Morsi was removed by the military on July 3, 2013.
The latest arrests come after a series of clashes between police and Muslim Brotherhood supporters across Egypt.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Monday that Egypt, Syria and Iraq have become among the deadliest countries for journalists to work in.
In a special report released by the New York-based organisation said conditions in the country had “deteriorated dramatically”.
“Amid stark political polarisation and related street violence, things deteriorated dramatically for journalists in Egypt, where six journalists were killed for their work in 2013.”