The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for Egyptian authorities to immediately release a team of journalists working for Al Jazeera who have been arrested in Cairo.
According to media reports, Egytian police are understood to have detained the journalists, who work for Al-Jazeera English, late on Sunday night, 29 December. The journalists are the TV network's bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, who holds Canadian nationality, Peter Greste, an Australian who formerly worked as a BBC correspondent, producer Baher Mohamed and Egyptian cameraman Mohamed Fawzy, who is said to have been arrested at home.
Egypt's interior ministry issued a statement saying the journalists had held illegal meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a terrorist group last week. The interior ministry said that cameras, recordings and other material had been seized from rooms at a hotel in Cairo, accusing the journalists of broadcasting news that was "damaging to national security."
"We join international condemnation of the journalists' arrest and demand that they are released with immediate effect," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "These are working journalists who have committed no crime and were simply doing their jobs.
"By continuing to detain theses journalists the Egyptian government is undermining the right to press freedom and freedom of expression in the country and calling into question its attitude towards basic human rights."
The arrest of the Al Jazeera journalists follows a series of violent attacks against media organisations and their staff in Egypt over the last six months.
Six journalists have been killed in the country this year, while the IFJ condemned the closure of several media channels after the military intervention in the summer. Al-Jazeera's Egyptian station Mubashir Misr was shut down in September.
The network also had its Cairo offices raided, equipment seized, and staff detained, while in November the IFJ joined a number of high profile politicians, trade union leaders and media organisations to call for the Egyptian government to release two Al Jazeera journalists - Abdullah Al Shami and cameraman Mohammad Badr - who were arrested in July and August and remain in detention,
"Egypt has a duty to adhere to its obligations according to international law," added Boumelha. "We call for authorities in the country to end this abuse of power and release all of the Al-Jazeera journalists currently being detained with immediate effect."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries