Al-Jazeera crew detained while covering judges’ meeting in Cairo

New York, May 13, 2005—
Authorities in Cairo today detained six Al-Jazeera employees and two freelance technicians covering a national gathering of judges, a station editor told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Hussein Abdel Ghani, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Cairo, said four Al-Jazeera staffers and the two technicians were preparing for a live transmission outside the Judges Club general assembly in downtown Cairo at about 11 a.m. when security forces took them into custody.

Abdel Ghani said that he and two Al-Jazeera staffers, including chief Cairo correspondent Samir Omar, went to the scene to get more information. Security agents forced Omar and the other staffer into a taxicab, he said. Omar later called by mobile phone to say that he and his colleague were being taken to the headquarters of State Security Investigation, Abdel Ghani said.

Abdel Ghani said security forces did not give a reason for the detentions. The meeting is being closely monitored because several judges have made bold demands seeking full judicial control over Egypt’s September presidential elections and a law asserting judicial independence. Near the meeting site, protesters who back President Hosni Mubarak faced off against members of the Kifaya (Enough) movement, which opposes a fifth term for Mubarak

“We are deeply troubled by these detentions,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “Detaining journalists does not square with the Egyptian government’s proclamations about political reform. These journalists should be released immediately.”

The other journalists detained were identified as Mohamed Ezzedin, Yasser Selime, Nasri Youssef, Ahmed Anwar, Raymon Aziz, Moataz Sawi, and Mahmoud Meligy.