Egypt bans 4 TV stations including Al-Jazeera

The Egyptian Al-Jazeera affiliate Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr and three other TV stations that covered the pro-Morsi demonstrations extensively were banned on Tuesday due to what Egyptian courts rule as “rumors and claims which are harmful to Egyptian national security and threaten the country’s unity.”

The Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr offices were raided August 31st and confiscated 2 vans which officials claimed were stolen from Egyptian State TV. AlAhrar 25, affiliated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was also raided as well as three other networks including Al-Quds a channel affiliated with Hamas,  and Islamist network Al-Hafez after accusations that it was “inciting hatred” against Coptic Christians and secular Egyptians.

Following President Morsi’s ousting, there has been increasing friction between the military backed interim Egyptian government and what the government claims as “pro-Morsi” media. Immediately after the military takeover on July 3rd, several TV stations sympathetic to President Morsi were ordered closed or were raided. On the day of Morsi’s ousting, Egyptian security forces ordered the Al-Jazeera offices closed and detained 28 staff who were later released. Military-led authorities also forced the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt 25 channel off air, and ordered its managers to be arrested and Islamist-run stations al-Hafiz and al-Nas were also shut down shortly after General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, head of Egypt’s armed forces, announced the transition of power.

More recently, two other news stations have also been targets of raids by Egyptian security forces, including Iranian TV station Al-Alam which was raided on July 20th and Turkey’s Ihlas News Agency (IHA) one month later on August 20th.

Last week, three Al-Jazeera journalists were deported to England after being arrested and detained for nearly a week. The crew consisting of reporter Wayne Hay, cameraman Adil Bradlow and producers Russ Finn and Baher Mohamed were arrested in Cairo on 27 August for illegally using satellite equipment and reporting without a license.  Currently six of the 10 journalists currently detained in Egypt work for Al-Jazeera including  Mohamed Badr, arrested on 15 July and Abdallah Al-Shami, arrested on 14 August.

Besides intimidating and harassing journalists, Al-Jazeera has also accused the Egyptian government for jamming news broadcasts for the last seven weeks.  Ibrahim Nassar, Head of Al-Jazeera’s teleport communications, told MediaGuardian that Integral Systems Europe was commissioned to determine the source of jamming and found three points east of Cairo and one in the desert west of the capital.

Nassar said its Egyptian service, al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, had been subjected to jamming every day between the hours of 7am and midnight since 5 July. It broadcasts on the Egyptian-owned Nilesat satellite.

Additional jamming also interfered with journalist TV feeds that is broadcasted on Arabsat, a satellite owned by the Arab League countries with the last jamming recorded on August 7th.

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