Egypt shuts down Islamist-run TV channels

CAIRO Thu Jul 4, 2013 6:17am IST

Egyptians sit in a Hookah Bar while watching and discussing the news in Egypt in the Queens borough of New York, July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Egyptians sit in a Hookah Bar while watching and discussing the news in Egypt in the Queens borough of New York, July 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's military-led authorities shut down three Islamist-run TV stations on Wednesday including one operated by the Muslim Brotherhood after President Mohamed Mursi was toppled by the army, drawing a statement of concern from a press freedom watchdog.

The security forces also raided the offices of Al Jazeera's Egyptian news channel and detained at least five of its staff, said Karim El-Assiuti, one of its journalists. Four of them were later released, the channel said.

The channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, was prevented from broadcasting from a pro-Mursi rally in northern Cairo and its crew there was also detained.

The Egyptian arm of the Qatari-owned media company began broadcasting after the 2011 uprising that topped President Hosni Mubarak and has been accused by critics of being sympathetic to Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood's Egypt25 channel was forced off air and its managers arrested shortly after General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, head of Egypt's armed forces, announced a plan for a new political transition, the state news agency MENA reported.

The authorities also shut down two other Islamist-run stations, Al-Hafiz and Al-Nas, security sources said. Both are affiliated to the strict Salafi Islamist movement.

"We are concerned by reports that authorities are shutting down television coverage based on political perspective," said Sherif Mansour of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "We urge the military not to deprive Egyptians of information sources at this important juncture."

(Reporting by Cairo bureau; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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