Top Egypt rights groups condemn army's media crackdown

CAIRO (AFP) - Prominent Egyptian human rights groups on Friday slammed a crackdown by the military on media outlets since it toppled president Mohamed Mursi this week.

In a joint statement, the seven non-governmental organisations (NGOs) condemned the closure of Islamist satellite television channels which they said included the storming of studios and arrest of staff members.

The channels include the Muslim Brotherhood's Misr 25, the Salafist network Khaligeyya, and Mubasher Misr, a channel linked to Doha-based Al-Jazeera.

An edition of the Freedom and Justice newspaper was also confiscated.

The NGOs, which include the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said the raids had been carried out on the grounds that the media outlets had "incited violence".

"Holding the inciter accountable is mandatory, but the closure of channels is a form of collective punishment, which constitutes a violation of media freedom," they said.

"The organisations equally condemn the detention of some members of staff at those channels in unknown locations... all of which sheds doubt over the legality of procedures taken against them."

They also criticised the "lack of transparency on the part of Egyptian authorities" in relation to the media crackdown.

"The organisations believe that Egyptian authorities must respect principles of media freedom as stipulated by international law, irrespective of the political situation," it said.

"Respect for those principles is more urgent and important during exceptional circumstances to avoid any attempts to turn an exception into a general rule."