Egypt's security forces arrested four journalists working for Al Jazeera's English language division in Cairo for their alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that was declared a terrorist organization last week.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera on Monday said that four members of its Cairo team -- correspondent Peter Greste, producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy -- are being held in custody after being arrested by security forces on Sunday evening.
“Al Jazeera demands the immediate release of their journalists,” the news network said.
Fahmy is a Canadian national, Greste, a veteran journalist who has worked previously for Reuters, CNN and the BBC is from Australia, while the other two journalists are Egyptian nationals.
The interior ministry said in a statement that cameras, recordings and other material were seized from rooms at a five-star hotel in Cairo, where the officials said the accused were meeting to “spread rumors harming national security.”
The arrests followd a series of clashes between government forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters across Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood was designated as a terrorist organization after a Dec. 24 bombing of a police headquarters in the Nile Delta, which killed 12 and injured more than a hundred people.
Egypt's government has accused the Brotherhood of carrying out the deadly car bomb attack but the organization has strongly denied the allegations. Al Jazeera has been criticized by Egypt's forces as being biased, mainly due to Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi in July, other journalists working for the media company have been arrested and its Cairo offices have been raided and equipment seized. Two of the journalists arrested in July and August are still under detention, while the network's relay station, Mubashir Misr, was shut down in September, BBC reported.