Egypt extends Al Jazeera journalist’s detention

Cairo, Jan 11 (IANS/AKI) Egyptian prosecutors ordered Al Jazeera TV news presenter Mahmoud Hussein Gomaa to remain in custody for another 15 days on suspicion of “fabricating reports” aimed at harming national security and sedition, official daily Al-Ahram said on Tuesday.

State Security arrested Goma on December 25 at a residence in Giza, where police confiscated thousands of video tapes as well as production equipment, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry statement, Gomaa used several residences to “avoid security monitoring in light of Al Jazeera’s unauthorised work in the country and its failure to obtain the needed licences”.

Shortly afterwards Al-Jazeera issued a statement confirming the arrest of Gomaa, who it said worked at the channel’s Egypt bureau in 2013 before it was shut down by the state.

The network said that it holds the Egyptian authorities responsible for Gomaa’s safety and called for his immediate release.

Two Al Jazeera employees were sentenced to death in absentia in July for passing secret state documents to Qatar.

In September 2015, two Al Jazeera English journalists received presidential pardons for their 3-year sentences for collaborating with the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group in a highly-publicised case widely condemned by rights groups.

Egypt has long accused Al Jazeera of carrying out a hostile media campaign against the country since relations between Cairo and Doha soured following the army’s ouster in 2013 of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.