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Egypt police raid Al-Jazeera office as sense of crisis grows

CAIRO — Security police raided the offices of an Egyptian spinoff of the al-Jazeera news network on Sunday and detained a member of its technical staff in the first move against a foreign news organization since the ruling military council declared a state of emergency after the storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

Egypt's ruling military council later said the emergency decree would be expanded to allow prosecution for the "spreading or broadcasting of any false news, information or rumors."

The move against al-Jazeera Live Egypt was denounced by a variety of Egyptian political organizations and fed a growing sense of crisis that has gripped the capital since hundreds of people rushed into the Israeli Embassy on Friday. Israel's ambassador and its diplomatic staff and dependents were evacuated to Israel.

"The government is using the attacks on the Israeli Embassy on Friday night to justify its use of repressive measures," said Amer al Wakil, a leader of the Egyptian Revolutionary Alliance, one of the political coalitions that emerged from the popular movement that led to the ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Mahmoud Afifi, a spokesman for the April 6 Movement, which spearheaded the protests against Mubarak, accused the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak stepped down Feb. 11, of "constraining public freedoms that the revolution has long demanded."

Security and media officials said al-Jazeera had been working without sufficient press permits and some of the equipment it used had not been authorized. But Ahmed Zein of al-Jazeera said the channel had applied for the permits four months ago and had been told by the Information Ministry to continue work until they were granted.

NO TESTIMONY: The head of the ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, was scheduled to testify at Mubarak's trial on charges he ordered security forces to shoot to kill protesters in the days before his resignation. But Tantawi did not appear because of the current political crisis prompted by the Israeli embassy attack, government officials said.

Egypt police raid Al-Jazeera office as sense of crisis grows 09/11/11 [Last modified: Sunday, September 11, 2011 9:06pm]
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