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» 09.03.2010 - Egypt releases blogger facing military trial
» 09.12.2009 - Arab states slammed for using excessive force
» 04.03.2009 - Egyptian internet activists freed
» 02.02.2009 - Court overturns jail terms for 4 editors
» 18.11.2008 - Egyptian rights organisation rejects media blockade in trial
» 30.09.2008 - Rights activists condemn Egyptian editor conviction
» 26.03.2008 - Egypt's vocal editor jailed
» 04.01.2008 - 51 Egypt websites escape ban

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Al-Jazeera's Cairo bureau chief arrested

afrol News, 27 April - Al-Jazeera TV's Cairo bureau chief, Hussein Abdel Ghani was arrested today for broadcasting "false information likely to harm the country's reputation." The pan-Arabic broadcaster has been attacked in many other Middle East and North African countries, but this is the first time its Egypt offices are under siege.

Journalist Ghani was detained in the resort town of Dahab, where he went to cover the Sinai bombings of the past few days. From the Egyptian Red Sea holiday resort, he was taken to Cairo for questioning by state security investigators this afternoon.

Prior to his arrest, Mr Ghani reported on Al-Jazeera today that there had been an attack against policemen in the town of Al-Sharkiya, east of Cairo. The information was mistaken, and Al-Jazeera issued a formal retraction a few hours later.

Several other Arab TV stations also issued similar erroneous reports about an attack in Al-Sharkiya without being bothered by the security services. The other broadcasters had based their reporting on Mr Ghani's erroneous news story.

Arrested at Dahab's Novotel hotel, Mr Ghani was initially taken to the local police station before being transferred to the office of the state security prosecutor in Cairo, where he was questioned at length without being allowed to contact his lawyer, family or employers.

Mr Ghani is currently being held in an individual cell in Al Nozha prison in Heliopolis, east of Cairo, according to the Paris-based press freedom organisation Reporters sans Frontières (RSF). He has been Al-Jazeera's Cairo bureau chief ever since the Qatar-based TV network was created in 1996.

The detention of Mr Ghani has caused protests from press freedom groups in Egypt and internationally. The Egyptian Press Union (EPU) today condemned Mr Ghani's arrest as a "serious press freedom violation" and called for his immediate release.

Also RSF today called for the release of Mr Ghani. "We call for the withdrawal of all the charges against Ghani," RSF said in a statement today. "He made a mistake but he recognised it immediately and it does not justify his arrest. We also question the methods used by the police - denying him access to a lawyer, taking him away by force, and subjecting him to a long interrogation before locking him in a cell," the French group added.

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