By Andy Sambidge
Qatar TV network hires top UK lawyers to fight 'sustained campaign of harassment'
Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera said on Thursday that it is to take legal action against Egypt's military-backed government over what it claims is a "sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation" against its journalists in the country.
The network said that since deposed President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July, a large number of its journalists have been arrested and detained, either without charge or on politically-motivated charges.
Al Jazeera's offices have been raided and closed, equipment has been confiscated, correspondents have been deported and its signal has been jammed by signals coming from military installations.
In a statement on Thursday, Al Jazeera said it had instructed London-based lawyers, Carter-Ruck, to take action in international courts and before the United Nations to protect it journalists and their right to report from Egypt.
“Al Jazeera cannot permit this situation to continue. The right of journalists to report freely in situations of this kind is protected by international law and is reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 1738 (2006)," a spokesman said.
"However, the new regime in Egypt has disregarded this fundamental right and seems determined to silence all independent journalism and reporting in the country, leaving only the voices of its own state-controlled media to be heard."
Earlier this month, Egypt deported three Al Jazeera journalists, days after the Qatari-owned channel carried appeals from leaders of Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood to stage protests against the army-backed government.
The Gulf emirate was a strong financial backer of Brotherhood rule and vehemently opposes the army's overthrow of Mursi and the ensuing bloody crackdown on his movement.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Egypt's government was widening a "censorship campaign", adding that its research showed that four other journalists were in custody.