Al Jazeera is officially shutting down what remains of its offices in Egypt, according to a Wednesday report by BuzzFeed.
The Qatar-based network has been consistently targeted by the Egyptian government as press freedom grows increasingly rare in the country. The Egyptian government has arrested Al Jazeera journalists and accused the network of being a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al Jazeera was ordered to stop broadcasting in Egypt in 2013, on the grounds that it was a national threat and was operating illegally, but has kept on administrative staff in case the situation changes.
A journalist enters the Al Jazeera bureau in Berlin after a demonstration for the news organization's reporters currently in jail in Cairo, as well other journalists suffering from censorship or harassment, on February 27, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Al Jazeera’s last remaining employees in Egypt were informed Wednesday that they will receive their last paychecks this month, as the Qatar-based network closed its offices in Egypt.
Al Jazeera has not reported from Egypt since Dec. 29, 2013, when the three reporters were arrested while working out of Cairo’s upscale Marriott Hotel. But the network has continued paying salaries to drivers, cameramen, and office workers.
Many of those still employed worked with local Al Jazeera affiliates, and did not report for the news team due to fears that any person with a connection to the network was at risk of arrest.
On Wednesday, however, several dozen of these employees were asked to attend a meeting where they were told after this month they would no longer receive a salary, and that they be given a compensation package going forward. Four of those employees spoke to BuzzFeed on condition of anonymity, because they were not allowed to publicly discuss their contracts.
“The whole office knows, they are letting everyone go,” said one office employee of Al Jazeera, ahead of the meeting. “We are all looking for new jobs.”
On Monday, Egypt's top prosecutor ordered the release of an Al Jazeera journalist, 26-year-old Abdullah Elshamy, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 100 days to protest that he was being held for months without being charged.
Three other Al Jazeera journalists are still being tried on terrorism-related charges in Egypt. The trial began in February, and a verdict is expected on Monday.