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Al-Jazeera Taking Legal Action Against Egypt

Complaints are being filed in international courts and at the U.N.

Al-Jazeera is taking legal action against Egyptian authorities, claiming that its journalists have been arrested without charges and harassed in past months, its London-based lawyers announced Thursday.

The Qatar-based network said in a statement on its website that since deposed President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July, an unspecified “large number” of its journos have been arrested either without charges or on what it calls politically-motivated charges.

Al-Jazeera said it had hired London-based legal firm Carter-Ruck, specialized in international law, to take action in international courts and before the United Nations.

Al-Jazeera is also accusing Egypt’s military and police of attacking its journalists and says that some of its offices have been closed and its transmissions jammed.

The pan-Arab network earlier this month complained that its satellite signals had been blocked following its coverage of Cairo’s crackdown on Islamists.

“Al-Jazeera cannot permit this situation to continue,” said a network spokesman in a statement released by its legal team.

“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.”

“Al-Jazeera has instructed its lawyers to take all steps necessary worldwide to ensure that its journalists can operate freely in the country, without fear of arbitrary arrest, jamming or other forms of harassment and intimidation,” he added.

The network said that authorities were trying to silence dissenting voices so that “only the voices of its state-controlled media” could be heard.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera is founded by the Gulf nation’s ruling family which is a strong supporter of  Morsi. Its Arabic service stood out among other Gulf nations in condemning Egypt’s deadly crackdown on pro-Morsi demonstrations.

In July more than twenty Al-Jazeera Cairo-based staffers reportedly resigned in protest against what anchor Karem Mahmoud called its “biased coverage” of the events unfolding in Egypt.

Egyptian authorities and local media have also accused Al-Jazeera of biased reporting of the military action that toppled Islamist Morsi amid plenty of support from the local populace.

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