2 Sep 2013

NZ journalist released in Egypt

11:22 am on 2 September 2013

New Zealand journalist Wayne Hay and three of his Al Jazeera colleagues have been released by the Egyptian authorities.

They were detained in Cairo for five days without charge after being arrested at a checkpoint.

Security officials at Cairo airport say Mr Hay, a former Television New Zealand sports reporter and presenter, and his colleagues were put on an Egyptian plane headed for London.

Wayne Hay.

Wayne Hay. Photo: Al Jazeera

They were forced to leave their equipment behind.

An Al Jazeera spokesperson says they were not given a reason for their detention.

In a statement, the Al Jazeera Media Network has thanked all those who helped the group, especially the New Zealand, South African and Irish embassies in the Egyptian capital.

The broadcaster says three other employees are still being detained.

On arriving in London, Mr Hay posted a message on social networking site Facebook saying he was safe and sound and in good spirits.

He said he had enjoyed his first cold beer for a few days and expressed his gratitude for the support he has had from friends and family.

The message said his thoughts go out to his colleagues who are still being held in Egypt.

A correspondent in Cairo, Bel Trew, told Morning Report the group that have been released had been accused of working in Egypt illegally and were told they did not have a permit to operate their equipment.

She says there appears to be a crackdown in Egypt on Al Jazeera journalists in particular at the moment, because authorities perceive their reporting of the political unrest is favouring the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Jazeera's offices in Cairo have been closed since 3 July, when they were raided by security forces hours after Mohammed Morsi was toppled as president.