Minister: Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr shut down for ‘disregarding’ law

Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr was shut down for disregarding Egyptian laws, said Information Minister Osama Heikal Monday, denying charges that the satellite channel was targeted because of its content.

Heikal told Egyptian state television that Egypt has the right to take legal action to preserve its sovereignty without being guilty of infringing on media freedom.

It is unacceptable for channels to use equipment for real time coverage of events without receiving state permission, he added.

Several violations were committed in recent months, Heikal said, prompting authorities to implement the law.

Two hundred satellite channels and newspaper offices have properly filed for the renewal of their permits and channels operating legally have not been closed, he added.

Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr began transmitting following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The closure came after the government said it would begin more tightly monitoring channels that incite divisions, a move some observers described as a reversion to Mubarak-era policies.

Ahmed Zein, the head of Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, told reporters that his office submitted a request to renew its broadcasting permit four months ago but was told to continue broadcasting as usual.

Egyptian authorities had said they would renew the channel’s permits as soon as possible, and then suddenly raided the office on Sunday, he added.

Islam Lotfy, the channel's lawyer, described the decision to suspend Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr as a "foolish political decision."

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