CAIRO Dec 31 Egypt's general prosecutor on
Tuesday detained several journalists for 15 days for
broadcasting graphics on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel that
damaged the country's reputation.
Al Jazeera's Cairo offices have been closed since July 3
when they were raided by security forces hours after the army
ousted the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi from the
Qatar was a strong financial backer of the Brotherhood's
rule and its relationship with Cairo has deteriorated in recent
months as it vehemently opposes the army's overthrow of Mursi
and the crackdown on his movement that has followed.
Egypt accuses Qatar and Al Jazeera of backing the
Brotherhood, which it declared a terrorist organisation on Dec.
25 and thousands of whose members it has arrested.
The prosecutor's statement on Tuesday said the journalists
belonged to a "media network" that was led by a Brotherhood
member but did not say how many were arrested.
Al Jazeera had said on Monday that the Egyptian security
forces arrested four journalists from its English language news
service in Cairo after the Interior Ministry accused them of
broadcasting illegally from a hotel suite.
The leader of the "media network" is a member of the Muslim
Brotherhood with dual Egyptian-Canadian nationalities, the
prosecutor's statement said.
"He used the suites in the hotel as a media centre to
collect graphics, manipulate them ... and create new scenes that
contradict reality then broadcast them through Al Jazeera and
CNN with the aim of harming Egypt's reputation abroad," it said.
Others being held pending investigations are Egyptians and
foreign journalists working with Al Jazeera channel, including
an Australian correspondent, it said.
Egypt's State Information Service said in a statement on
Tuesday that it is not targetting foreign journalists in Egypt
and that the arrested journalists from Al Jazeera were not
registered to work in Egypt.
"Al Jazeera condemns and deplores the arbitrary detention of
journalists and demands their unconditional, immediate release,"
a spokesman for the news channel said. He declined to comment on
the case as Al Jazeera had not yet received any official
notification, he said.
(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Additional reporting by Shadia
Nasralla; Editing by Louise Ireland)