News channel Al-Jazeera is accusing Egypt of making up “fabricated charges” against one of its producers who is being detained in the country.
In a statement Monday, Al-Jazeera — a broadcaster partly funded by the ruling family of Qatar — said the allegations brought by Egypt against Mahmoud Hussain “contain a number of malicious and false accusations, which we categorically deny.”
Egypt confirmed Monday that it arrested Hussain on charges of disturbing security and spreading false news accounts. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Hussain was instructed by his network to broadcast “false news.”
Egyptian officials say Hussain will be held for 15 days pending an investigation.
Al-Jazeera, which is not allowed to operate inside Egypt, demanded Hussain’s immediate release and noted that Hussain was in Egypt on vacation to visit his family, and not for work.
“Had Mr. Hussain intended to commit any unlawful acts, as alleged in the statement, he would not have entered the country through its international airport,” Al-Jazeera said.
The broadcaster said it will take all legal action necessary to “remedy the violations committed by the Egyptian authorities.”
“These violations include incarcerating Hussain in unknown whereabouts; coercing false confession from him while under duress; prohibiting him from communicating with his lawyer or his family members; and conducting a malicious smear campaign against him across numerous state media in Egypt ahead of any fair trial,” it said.
The detention is the latest in a series of Egyptian arrests of Al-Jazeera journalists, further raising concerns over the freedom of journalists working in the country.
Egypt drew international condemnation when it arrested three Al-Jazeera journalists — a Canadian, an Australian and an Egyptian — in 2013 and sentenced them to jail time. The three were later released.
In May, a court in Cairo sentenced two Al-Jazeera reporters, charged in absentia, to death for leaking state secrets to Qatar.
Al-Jazeera’s news coverage in the years following Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring revolution and the 2013 overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi was intensely criticized by the Egyptian government.