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EGYPT: Authorities detain reporters, confiscate equipment

January 31, 2011 |  8:01 am

Dan nolanAuthorities in Egypt appear to be stepping up a clampdown on the media as anti-government protests continue. Six reporters from the pan-Arabic satellite news channel Al Jazeera English were reportedly detained temporarily on Monday and had their equipment confiscated by the Egyptian military.

Al Jazeera announced Monday that six of its journalists had been detained and some of its camera equipment seized by the Egyptian military following government attempts to silence the network. The journalists were released shortly thereafter.

Al Jazeera has emerged as the leading network in covering the uprising in Egypt with correspondents in every major Egyptian city reporting in both English and Arabic.

On Sunday, the network reported tht President Hosni Mubarak's government revoked Al Jazeera's accreditation and ordered its Cairo bureau to close. The station has continued to broadcast from Egypt, but its anchors have noted significant restrictions in their journalists' freedom of movement and ability to report.

At 2:11 p.m., Al Jazeera English correspondent Dan Nolan tweeted: "4 soldiers entered room took our camera. We are under military arrest #Egypt #jan25."A few minutes later he tweeted: "unsure if arrested or about to be deported. 6 of us held at army checkpoint outside Hilton hotel."

Al Jazeera has been credited with helping galvanize protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt, sparking debate about its role in the region.

Some reporters also claim they've had their camera equipment confiscated at the Cairo airport as they enter the country.

Nathalie Carny, a reporter for the French news channel France 24 and Chinese Central Television (CCTV), told Babylon & Beyond that she had had her camera taken away by customs officials at the airport when she flew in on Sunday night.

"They saw the camera and asked us to take it over to the other part of the building. ... We pleaded our case, showing our papers and international press cards," she said.

Carny says she was asked by customs officials to fill out some paperwork in order to get her equipment back on Monday but that they refused to give it back to her when she went to the airport.

"After five hours, we left and still no cameras," she said.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Cairo and Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Dan Nolan. Credit: Twitter

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