Al Jazeera has taken legal action to protect its journalists in Egypt following the arrest and detention of “a large number” of reporters by security services.
The Middle East-based broadcaster has called in London law firm Carter-Ruck to take action against what it claims is a “sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation” orchestrated by the Egyptian government.
Al Jazeera claims that a number of its journalists in Egypt have been arrested “either without charge or on spurious and politically motivated charges” since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi by the military in July.
Besides the arrests, Al Jazeera claims that Egyptian authorities have jammed its transmissions and shut down offices and other facilities.
The network has instructed Carter-Ruck to take action in the international courts and present the case to the UN.
An Al Jazeera spokesman said: “Al Jazeera cannot permit this situation to continue. The right of journalists to report freely in situations of this kind is protected by international law and is reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 1738 (2006). However, the new regime in Egypt has disregarded this fundamental right and seems determined to silence all independent journalism and reporting in the country, leaving only the voices of its own state-controlled media to be heard.
“Al Jazeera has instructed its lawyers to take all steps necessary worldwide to ensure that its journalists can operate freely in the country, without fear of arbitrary arrest, assault, jamming or other forms of harassment and intimidation.
“In the meantime, we call upon the United Nations and all of its member states to act to ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the press do not die in Egypt.”
Last month, Sky News cameraman Mick Deane was killed by an Egyptian sniper while reporting on protests in support of President Morsi in Cairo. It was suggested that Deane and other journalists may have been deliberately targeted by security forces.