Egyptian authorities on Sunday detained four journalists working for the Al Jazeera English news channel. The journalists have been accused [AFP report] of broadcasting illegally, spreading false information and information aimed at inciting the public, and meeting with members of the Muslim Brotherhood [party website, JURIST news archive], an Islamist group that was recently classified as a terrorist organization [JURIST report] by the Egyptian government. Egypt has been increasingly hostile to journalists in the past months, and has been called upon by international organizations to change their behavior. A recent report revealed that 70 [CPJ report] journalists were killed on the job in 2013 [AP report]. Al Jazeera took legal action against the Egyptian government [JURIST report] in September, accusing the regime of detaining journalists [Al Jazeera report] without charges or on politically motivated charges, raiding Al Jazeera offices, confiscating equipment and jamming transmission of broadcasts. Al Jazeera has demanded [press release] that the journalists be released.
The Egyptian government has been cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood recently. The designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist group followed the bombing of a police station in the Delta city of Mansoura one day prior that killed 16 people and left over 130 injured. Earlier this month Egyptian state media reported [JURIST report] that ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi [BBC backgrounder] will be tried on charges of espionage and terrorism along with 35 other defendants, many of whom are also former high-level officials and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In late September an Egyptian court banned [JURIST report] the Brotherhood after having previously banned [JURIST report] several media outlets earlier in the month for their alleged support of the group. The order closing the outlets claimed they had been providing biased news reports favoring the Brotherhood. Morsi was deposed [JURIST report] as president in early July, when the Egyptian military took control of the government and suspended the nation's constitution. Egypt has faced near-continual unrest since its revolution overthrowing [JURIST backgrounder] the autocratic government of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.