Alleged Al-Jazeera reporter arrested in Egypt

AP News
Posted: May 30, 2014 11:19 AM
Alleged Al-Jazeera reporter arrested in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian police have arrested a freelance journalist for allegedly sending footage to an affiliate of the satellite news network Al-Jazeera, the country's Interior Ministry said Friday, part of a wider crackdown on the broadcaster.

Police raided the home of the woman in the coastal city of Port Said and investigators confiscated a laptop, a mobile phone and other equipment she used, the ministry said in a statement.

It said the phone contained video being aired by Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr just before her arrest. The ministry said the channel stopped broadcasting the video once police had the phone.

A report on Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr's website identified the woman as Rasha Gaafar and said police arrested her Wednesday. The channel did not say whether she worked for the broadcaster, only that she was charged with filming empty polling stations during the country's presidential election this week.

Officials with Doha-based Al-Jazeera could not be immediately reached for comment Friday. It was unclear if Gaafar had a lawyer.

Egyptian authorities have waged a wide crackdown on the broadcaster since the military's July 3 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Authorities accused the network of airing biased reports backing Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group, designated by the government as a terrorist organization. Al-Jazeera repeatedly has denied the claims.

The ministry on Friday identified the freelance journalist arrested as a Brotherhood member.

Three Al-Jazeera English journalists arrested in December are on trial on charges of belonging to and aiding a terrorist group, namely the Brotherhood, as well as fabricating footage to undermine Egypt's national security.

Prosecutors have offered video clips found with the journalists about an animal hospital with donkeys and horses, and another about Christian life in Egypt as evidence of their crimes. That's something the journalists, their lawyers and even the judge in case have called irrelevant.

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Al-Jazeera Arabic service journalist Abdullah Elshamy, who is on a hunger strike, has been held without charges since August after being arrested separately.

Meanwhile Friday, Egypt's state news agency MENA said prosecutors ordered two student supporters of Morsi held for 15 days as police investigate them for filming empty polling stations in Beheira province, northwest of Cairo.

This week's election saw retired Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the July military overthrow of Morsi, reportedly trounce his only competitor, though the poll saw a lower-than-expected turnout.