The Al Jazeera Media Network has condemned the arrest of four of its journalists held by Egyptian authorities since Sunday night, and has demanded their immediate release.
Award-winning Nairobi-based correspondent Peter Greste, Al Jazeera English bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo-based producer Baher Mohamed and a fourth staff journalist have been held in custody since their arrest by security forces on Sunday evening. Greste is a veteran journalist who over the past two decades has worked for Reuters, CNN and the BBC.
The Qatar-based network's spokesperson said of the latest arrests: "We condemn the arbitrary arrest of Al Jazeera English journalists working in Cairo and demand their immediate and unconditional release.
"Al Jazeera Media Network has been subject to harassment by Egyptian security forces which has arrested our colleagues, confiscated our equipment and raided our offices despite that we are not officially banned from working there."
The latest Cairo arrests come amid what Reporters Without Borders has described as a climate of growing hostility towards journalists in Egypt.
Al Jazeera's offices were raided in August and security forces seized equipment that has yet to be returned. According to The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in the two months after former President Mohamed Morsi's July 3 removal by the military there were 67 cases of temporary detentions, assaults and confiscations against journalists, including four local pro-Morsi broadcast stations that were shut down immediately after his ouster.
The latest arrests come after a series of clashes between police and Muslim Brotherhood supporters across Egypt.
CPJ said on Monday that Egypt, Syria and Iraq have become among the deadliest countries for journalists to work in. A year-end report released by the New York-based organization said conditions in Egypt had "deteriorated dramatically."
"Amid stark political polarization and related street violence, things deteriorated dramatically for journalists in Egypt, where six journalists were killed for their work in 2013."