February 3, 2011 / 8:21 PM / 8 years ago

Al Jazeera says journalists released in Egypt

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera said three of its journalists were released in Egypt on Thursday after being detained by Egyptian authorities while covering that country’s massive street protests.

The television said in a news alert that the three journalists had been released. It did not give details and did not say what had become of a fourth.

The news channel, which was told earlier this week to shut its operations in Egypt, said earlier Thursday that three of its journalists had been detained and a fourth was missing.

Al Jazeera said Monday that six of its English-language service journalists were freed in Egypt after being detained. Their equipment was confiscated and destroyed, the channel said.

“(Al Jazeera) faced unprecedented levels of interference in its broadcast signal across the Arab world,” it said in a statement.

The station’s coverage of political unrest in Egypt has been widely watched in the region, but has been criticised by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s supporters.

Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman alluded to the channel’s coverage of the political crisis, without mentioning it by name.

“I blame some friendly states that have completely unfriendly stations which charge the young against the state ... with false claims and exaggeration,” Suleiman told Egyptian state television Thursday.

Suleiman urged young Egyptians to avoid following “rumors and satellite channels that incite you against the state.”

Egyptian authorities ordered Al Jazeera Sunday to stop operations in Egypt, although its correspondents continued reporting by telephone.

The network also relied heavily in its Arabic coverage on speaking by telephone to Egyptian journalists mostly reporting on events at Tahrir Square in Cairo, where most of the protests have been taking place.

Egypt’s Nilesat satellite company also stopped broadcasting Al Jazeera’s signal.

The news channel, which says it can reach 220 million households in more than 100 countries, asked viewers to switch to the Arabsat and Hotbird satellites to see its programs.

It also put out Tuesday the names of a dozen Arabic channels on news alerts, thanking them for carrying its signal. At least two of the channels are based in London and one is run by Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas.

Launched in Doha, Qatar, in 1996, Al Jazeera says it has more than 400 reporters in more than 60 countries.

Writing by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Michael Roddy

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