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Egypt will take steps to ban Al Jazeera broadcasts, ministers say

The network is threatening national security, three government ministers said in a statement Thursday.

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A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Morsi takes cover during clashes with security officers close to Cairo's Ramses Square on Aug. 16, 2013. (VIRGINIE NGUYEN HOANG/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt’s interim government will take steps to ban broadcasts from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera because the network is threatening national security, three government ministers said in a statement Thursday.

The network’s local affiliate, Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr, has been accused of backing the Muslim Brotherhood, which Qatar supports.

This week, the channel aired statements from two Muslim Brotherhood leaders who called for protests against Egypt's military. One of those leaders, Mohamed El-Beltagi, was arrested on Thursday.

More from GlobalPost: Muslim Brotherhood leader Beltagi arrested

The ministers of investment, communications and information said the station was operating without a license and spreading “rumors and claims which are harmful to Egyptian national security and threaten the country’s unity.”

Ayman Gaballah, the head of Al Jazeera, told Reuters the accusations were baseless. "We are not facing a legal problem but rather an issue of freedom of expression," he said. "Our licence ... clearly states that the channel can operate in Egypt."

The ministers did not say what actions would be taken against Al Jazeera, which closed its offices in Cairo on July 3, after a security forces raid. The station currently broadcasts to Egypt from Qatar.

The signal is beamed to Egypt via state-owned satellite operator Nilesat, which could cut it off, the Associated Press reported.

On Friday morning, Egyptian police raided Al Jazeera's offices in Giza, Agouza, Dokki and Imbaba.

The police also raided the offices of the Al-Mayadeen channel, owned by Tunisian-Lebanese talk show host Ghassan Bin Jiddo.

Egypt is currently holding five journalists who work for Al Jazeera, the network said. A three-man team covering events in Cairo for Al Jazeera English was detained on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera correspondent Abdullah al-Shami is still in Egyptian custody after being arrested while covering the pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya on Aug. 14, as is Mohamed Badr, a cameraman for Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, who has been detained for more than a month.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/130829/egypt-will-take-steps-ban-al-jazeera-broadcasts-minis