Higher National Security Prosecution ordered on Sunday the detention of the news producer of Qatari Al-Jazeera news channel for 15 days pending investigations.
Mahmoud Hussein, who was arrested on Friday, is facing charges of receiving financial support from Al-Jazeera in order to produce fabricated news and documentaries to damage the state’s image.
The Qatari media network has denied all accusations and demanded Hussein’s immediate release, saying that he was in Egypt for a vacation, not for work. It also added in a statement that these charges and any other allegations that might be added in the future are a result of practices that violate international conventions, and that these violations prevail in Egypt according to what has been exposed by several human rights organisations.
Egypt’s Ministry of Interior issued a statement on Sunday in which it confirmed the arrest. It said that it received information concerning officials from Al-Jazeera who are attempting to incite chaos and violence against state institutions.
Al-Jazeera called on human rights organisations to defend Hussein because “journalism is not a crime.” It also said that Hussein is currently working in Qatar’s capital of Doha after the Al-Jazeera in Egypt closed in 2013.
In November, the Qatari media network released a documentary entitled “Conscripts”, in which it claimed that Egyptian conscripts are mistreated while serving their compulsory army service. The movie stirred controversy and was criticised by Egyptian media.
In 2013, following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, Al-Jazeera was accused of being biased towards Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. It was severely criticised before it had to close its office in Cairo.
Also in 2013, three journalists from Al-Jazeera were arrested in the case known as the “Marriot cell”. They were facing charges of spreading false news and belonging to the Brotherhood. However, they were released in 2015 following a presidential pardon.