Egypt confirmed on Sunday that it had arrested an Al Jazeera news producer, accusing him of “provoking sedition” on behalf of the Qatar-based broadcaster that it considers a mouthpiece of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Judicial sources said Mahmoud Hussain, who was detained on Friday along with his two brothers, was being held on charges of disturbing public security and spreading false news.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Al Jazeera officials “had ordered some individuals collaborating with the channel inside the country to continue implementing its media plan of provoking sedition, incitement against the state, and spreading chaos through broadcasting false news.”
It identified Hussain as a person implementing that plan for the channel which is not allowed to operate inside Egypt. Al Jazeera was not immediately available for comment.
Egypt has arrested several Al Jazeera reporters over the past two years, raising concerns over media freedoms in the country.
In May, a Cairo court recommended the death penalty against two of them, charged in absentia with endangering national security by leaking state secrets to Qatar.
The Brotherhood is a Qatar-backed movement that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has cracked down on since an army takeover in 2013 stripped former president Mohammed Morsi – a prominent member of the group – of power following mass protests against his rule.
Thousands of Brotherhood supporters including Morsi are in jail and Egypt has designated the group, which says it is non-violent, a terrorist organisation.
Qatar, where Al Jazeera television is located, has decried Morsi’s ouster and still shelters many Brotherhood members, who fled a harsh crackdown launched by Egyptian authorities since 2013.