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Egypt arrests former Al-Jazeera freelance reporter

April 9, 2014

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities arrested a journalist Wednesday who worked for the Al-Jazeera satellite news network and other Islamist media for allegedly inciting and taking part in violence, the country’s official news agency reported.

The MENA report said Abdel-Rahman Shaheen, detained in the Suez Canal area, is suspected of taking part and inciting attacks against police, including torching security vehicles. Quoting an unnamed security official, the agency said Shaheen has nine arrests warrants against him over alleged violent attacks.

The report identified him as a journalist who worked for the Muslim Brotherhood’s now-banned newspaper and television station, as well as Doha-based Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera said Shaheen previously worked as a freelance journalist for its Arabic service.

Egypt’s military-backed interim government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group following the July overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Over a thousand of the group’s members and sympathizers have been killed in security crackdown on protests since the overthrow. More than 1,600 are currently detained, some facing trials on various charges.

Three of the network’s English service journalists, including award-winning Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, are being tried on terrorism-related charges. A fourth journalist who works for the network’s Arabic service has been detained since August and has been on a hunger strike since January to protest his continued detention.

The station denies being biased and says its journalists were arrested for simply doing their job.

MENA identified Shaheen as a Brotherhood member who was among a group of students suspended from Al-Azhar University for taking part in a militia-style demonstration organized in 2006 by masked students. It said that demonstration sparked an investigation then into whether the Brotherhood had resurrected a military wing.

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