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Friday, January 17, 2014

A.P. Cameraman Released on Bail in Egypt

An Egyptian cameraman who was arrested this week while covering the constitutional referendum in Egypt for The Associated Press was released on bail on Friday, the news agency reported.

The journalist, Hassan Abdullah Hassan, was detained, along with his driver, after police officers saw his images being broadcast on an Al Jazeera channel and mistakenly concluded that he must work for the Qatari satellite network. Al Jazeera, like hundreds of Associated Press clients, pays the wire service to use video, photographs and text reports gathered by A.P. journalists. The driver was released on Thursday.

Authorities are still investigating Mr. Hassan despite the apparent misunderstanding that led to his arrest, according to Jon Gambrell, an A.P. correspondent in Cairo.

Since the Egyptian military forced Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood from the presidency in July, officials have pursued a relentless crackdown on Al Jazeera and other channels that broadcast sympathetic coverage of Islamist protesters killed or injured while demanding the reinstatement of the elected president. At least five journalists reporting from Egypt for the network have been jailed since August.

As my colleague Liam Stack reported, Egypt’s prosecutor general claimed in a statement released on Thursday that that some of the detained journalists had “confessed during the investigations that they had joined the terrorist group,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. That assertion was rejected out-of-hand by the Qatari network, as was the prosecution claim that a crew arrested last month had produced “reports fabricating the situation in Egypt to tarnish the country’s reputation and delude international public opinion by saying that a civil war is going on in Egypt.”

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.