Al Jazeera Media Network has denied “fabricated charges” against its news producer who was arrested in Egypt on Friday.
The Qatar-based Network on Sunday demanded Mahmoud Hussein’s immediate release, saying that he was in Egypt on holiday and not for work.
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“Al Jazeera deems all accusations against Hussein, including those which might be added later to the current allegations, to be a result of practices which violate international norms and conventions, and which, unfortunately prevail in Egypt as exposed by human rights organisations,” the network said in a statement.
It also said it was deeply surprised that Egypt’s interior ministry issued an official statement that contained “an alarming number of false facts and allegations”.
Egypt’s interior ministry said that Hussein was arrested on Friday at a house in Giza, on the outskirts of the capital, Cairo. He has been detained for 15 days pending investigation.
The statement on Sunday claimed that Hussein used several residences to “avoid security monitoring in light of Al Jazeera’s unauthorised work in the country and its failure to obtain the needed licences”.
Hussein was accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”.
Al Jazeera denied all charges, and said it was concerned over Hussein’s safety.
“[Hussein] is a news producer in the Al Jazeera Arabic newsroom and not a correspondent supervisor as alleged by the statement … [he] would not have travelled through the airport at Egypt if he was undertaking any illegal activities as alleged by the MOI statement,” the broadcaster said.
“Al Jazeera also warns the Egyptian authorities against subjecting Hussein to torture or extracting any information from him by force.”
He was questioned for more than 15 hours at Cairo’s airport on Tuesday after arriving for a holiday, security sources told The Associated Press news agency.
State security also stormed the homes of Hussein’s two brothers and arrested them.
Egyptian authorities have over the past few years arrested several Al Jazeera employees, raising concerns over media freedom in the country.
In May, a Cairo court recommended the death penalty against two of them, charged in absentia, with endangering national security by allegedly leaking state secrets to Qatar.
Al Jazeera’s Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste – along with seven colleagues outside the country – were accused of spreading “false news” during their coverage of demonstrations against a military overthrow of then-president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy spent 437 days in jail before being released. Greste spent more than a year in prison.
There has been a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since the army takeover in 2013 stripped Mohamed Morsi – a prominent member of the group – of power following mass protests against his rule.
Thousands of Brotherhood supporters, including Morsi, are in jail. Egypt has designated the group, which says it is non-violent, as a “terrorist organisation”.