Security officials on Thursday raided the Cairo offices of an Al Jazeera affiliate, bringing renewed accusations of a crackdown against independent media outlets by Egypt’s interim military rulers on the eve of planned protests.
It was the second time this month that Egyptian officials have forced their way into the offices of Al Jazeera Egypt Live, which has carried live coverage of street protests since it began broadcasting after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.
The station's news chief, Ahmed Zein, told the Associated Press that officials roughed up staff and confiscated at least one camera and a laptop.
In video posted on YouTube, a female journalist challenges plainclothes officials to show their faces on camera, show her their search orders and let her into the office they are searching, according to Al Jazeera's Egypt Live Blog.
Egyptian authorities say the station is operating without permits, which Zein says it applied for months ago.
The raid came the day before a major protest is planned in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand that the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces announce a timetable for transferring power to a civilian government and end the country's emergency law, among other issues.
On Wednesday, authorities said they were temporarily suspending the granting of new permits to satellite channels, according to the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry al Youm.
“Someone, an authority or an official, is clearly getting fed up with the newly acquired freedoms in Egypt,” human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif Islam was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
-- Alexandra Zavis in Los Angeles
Video: Amateur footage said to show Egyptian security forces raiding the Cairo offices of Al Jazeera Egypt Live. Credit: YouTube