Six Al-Jazeera journalists arrested in Egypt

Last Updated: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 21:01

Dubai: Six foreign journalists of Qatar-
based Al-Jazeera news channel were on Monday arrested in Egypt
after authorities’ shutdown the network that has provided
round-the-clock coverage to the uprising against the 30-year
authoritarian rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

The pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera said that six of
its journalists have been detained from a hotel in Cairo after
authorities ordered the closure of the network`s local office
yesterday.

The nationalities of the arrested al-Jazeera employees
are "Australian, Portuguese and British," according to local
Arab media reports.

The journalists are part of its English-language
channel, a sister operation to the flagship Arabic service, it
said. The news network called the Egyptian ban "an act
designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the
network and its journalists."

"In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian
society, it is imperative that voices from all sides be
heard," said the statement from its headquarters in Qatar`s
capital Doha.

"The closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government
is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian
people."

The Egyptian authorities announced yesterday through
the state television that they are revoking the Al Jazeera
Network`s licence to broadcast from the country, and will be
shutting down its bureau office in Cairo, according to the
channel.

Egyptian state news agency MENA said Al Jazeera’s
journalists had been stripped of their accreditation and the
network’s licence had been withdrawn.

"The Information Minister ordered....suspension of
operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and
withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today," a
statement on the MENA website said yesterday.

Al Jazeera has been at the forefront of reporting on
the popular protests and riots that overthrew Tunisian
president Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali and threaten to do the same
to Mubarak.

Before many others, the news channel flooded bulletins
with footage, streamed online and updated its Twitter,
Facebook and blog sites.

The network has frequently been at odds with
authorities in the Middle East, previously facing bans or
restrictions in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

In December, Al Jazeera’s Kuwait offices were closed
after the state accused it of meddling in domestic affairs.

Stepping up the agitation against embattled Mubarak,
anti-government protesters gave a call for a million people to
pour onto the streets of Cairo tomorrow to put up a massive
show of strength to force the beleaguered President to leave
the country by Friday.

Upping the ante to topple Mubarak, a coalition of
opposition parties, including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood
also served an ultimatum telling the powerful army to choose
between "Egypt or Mubarak", indicating that a decisive stage
may be near as the death toll in the last six days of violence
crossed 150.

PTI



First Published: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 21:01

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