By Laura King
2:18 PM PST, January 26, 2014
CAIRO -- A young Los Angeles man working in Egypt as a freelance translator and journalist was freed four days after being detained by Egyptian authorities, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday.
Jeremy Hodge, 26, had been picked up on Wednesday at his Cairo apartment by police who also detained his Egyptian roommate, Hossam Meneai, a filmmaker. Meneai was still being held, according to friends of the two.
A U.S. Embassy official confirmed Hodge’s release, but had no further comment on the case because of privacy considerations. Acquaintances and professional associates had launched a campaign on social media calling for the release of the pair.
Detentions of murky provenance have become commonplace in recent months as Egypt’s interim government imposes increasingly authoritarian measures aimed at Islamist and secular opponents alike. Many detainees are held without charges for lengthy periods.
Three journalists from the news channel Al Jazeera English have been held since Dec. 29. Authorities have accused them of making false reports and having links with the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
The interim government, which took power in July after a popularly supported coup, initially moved mainly against the Brotherhood. But the crackdown has broadened to extend to secular activists, academics and journalists.
A number of well-known figures associated with the 2011 uprising against Mubarak are behind bars. The military-backed government used Saturday’s third anniversary of the uprising to stage orchestrated shows of support for the interim government and its main power, army chief Abdel-Fattah Sisi.
Aware of the growing backlash against detentions without charges, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour pledged Sunday to expedite the handling of such cases, particularly regarding university students who have been rounded up in large numbers.
In a speech Sunday, Mansour denied charges levied by human rights groups of arbitrary arrests, insisting authorities were waging a fight against terrorism rather than targeting political opponents.
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