Five Al Jazeera journalists arrested by Egyptian military authorities face terror charges

The Egyptian military government has arrested five Al Jazeera journalists accused of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Speaking to CNN, senior correspondent of  Al Jazeera English Sue Turton said the news organisation was actively trying to secure the release of its staff. 

The five Al Jazeera staff have been detained since 29 December by the military-backed Egyptian government.

Al Jazeera claims Egyptian authorities want to silence the network from producing any critical coverage about the Government, brought to power by a coup in July 2013.

A spokesman for Al Jazeera has said: “We condemn the allegations directed at our staff by Egyptian authorities, which are aiming to stigmatise us and further incite violence against our journalists working on the ground. This is all part of a larger, antagonistic campaign against us.”

Turton said Al Jazeera English is most concerned about producer Mohamed Fahmy, who has a broken shoulder after being transferred to Tura prison, Cairo, and is having to sleep on a stone floor.

Fahmy has previously worked for CNN and the New York Times and is half Canadian. 

According to Al Jazeera, Mohamed will be brought before a prosecutor for questioning later today.

Turton said Al Jazeera hasn’t had direct access to the detainees but their lawyers are informing them of the kind of conditions the journalists are in.

She said: “Our senior people have been talking to the Government, to the main prosecutors office constantly in Cairo. When they were first arrested 12 days ago we were told they were being investigated and interrogated, they are routinely interrogated individually about claims of terrorism and colluding with terrorism. Then we were hearing it was to do with not having the proper accreditation. At the moment it quite confusing as to what they are being blamed for, and indeed why they were arrested.

"Now we know …hundreds of journalists over the course of last few months have been detained, we get the feeling we’re being almost used as a test case by the prosecutor, one to see how people react by our journalists being locked up and two to see whether or not they can prosecute us for whatever charges they bring against us.”

She added: “This crackdown that happened 12 days ago, that was specifically on Al Jazerra English and I would challenge anybody to say that our coverage has just been about what has been going on with the crackdown of the Muslim Brotherhood. We have aired so many other stories to do with Egypt.” 

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