A Canadian journalist is one of four employees of the Al Jazeera television network who are under arrest in Cairo for interviewing members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed president Mohammed Morsi.
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, the English-language bureau chief for Al Jazeera in Egypt, was taken into custody late on Sunday along with three of his colleagues: Peter Greste, an Australian journalist, and two Egyptians who were identified as producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy.
According to his own social networking page, Mr. Fahmy attended university in Calgary in the 1990s before working for a number of media outlets including CNN. He has been with Al Jazeera since September.
The Qatar-based network condemned the arrests saying they followed a period of sustained intimidation towards Al Jazeera staff, property and coverage since the military-orchestrated removal of Mr. Morsi in July. The network demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of the journalists.
The Canadian government confirmed it is aware that a Canadian citizen had been arrested in Egypt and said in a statement that consular officials are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.
Mr. Fahmy is believed to also hold Egyptian citizenship. He and the other Al Jazeera journalists were taken from their work suites in the posh Mariott Hotel.
The Egyptian government accuses them of filming illegal interviews with members of the Muslim Brotherhood which it declared last week to be a terrorist group. News organizations working in Egypt said it was the first time that journalists with foreign passports had been taken into custody by the interim government.
A release posted on Monday to the Facebook page of Egypt’s Interior Ministry said Muslim Brotherhood members were using the hotel as an operations centre to broadcast media harmful to Egyptian security and to propagate rumours and “closed information” to Al Jazeera, which had not obtained the required permits. The release said security officers also confiscated many videos, still cameras and materials related to a students’ strike in Cairo in the past week.
The arrests follow those earlier this year of John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, two Canadian men who were held for 53 days after being detained while travelling through Cairo with the intent of visiting Gaza.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based organization, issued a report on Monday that said Egypt was the third-most dangerous country for journalists in 2013 – behind only Syria and Iraq – and that six journalists have been killed for their work there this year.
With a report from Omar El Akkad