Egypt has detained an Al Jazeera producer for "provoking sedition" and spreading "false news" in the country, reigniting the tensions between Cairo and the news network. Al Jazeera claims their employee was on vacation.
The Qatar-based channel rejected the "fabricated charges" on Sunday, after Egyptian authorities detained Al Jazeera employee Mahmoud Hussein and accused the network of a plot against state institutions.
The 51-year-old Hussein was first interrogated after landing in Egypt on Tuesday. The authorities released him after several hours. Later in the week, however, police raided his Cairo family home and arrested him pending "an investigation into accusations that he incited against the state and broadcast fake news and documentaries."
The Egyptian interior ministry also alleged that Hussein was active in an Al Jazeera plot "provoking sedition" and "spreading chaos through broadcasting false news" in the country.
The military-led regime in Egypt is highly suspicious of the Arab network, considering it an ally of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and the ousted president Mohammed Morsi. The Doha-based state-funded broadcaster is not allowed to operate inside Egypt.
Al Jazeera 'won't succumb to pressure'
Responding to the latest incident, Al Jazeera said that the official statement on Hussein had "an alarming number of false facts and allegations."
The employee "is a news producer in the Al Jazeera Arabic newsroom and not a correspondent supervisor as alleged by the statement," the broadcaster said. "Mahmoud went to Egypt to visit his family during his vacation with full confidence in himself, his profession and his integrity," it added.
The network demanded Hussein's immediate release and accused Cairo of a "crackdown" on its journalists. "We will continue to cover Egypt and we don't succumb to pressure," Al Jazeera Managing Director Yasser Abu Hilalah said.
Egypt sparked international condemnation when it arrested three Al Jazeera journalists in 2013, including a Canadian and an Australian citizen. The Australian journalist was deported in early 2015, while the other two received presidential pardons several months later. Another Arabic reporter, Abdullah Elshamy, was also arrested in 2013 and held for 10 months without charge. Earlier this year, two other Al Jazeera employees weresentenced to death in absentia on charges of passing state secrets to Qatar.
dj/jm (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)