French police on Wednesday detained three Al-Jazeera journalists for illegally flying a drone from a Paris park. Their arrests come as authorities are investigating sightings of drones flying over key Parisian landmarks for two consecutive nights.
The journalists -- all foreign nationals -- were taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon after police saw a drone flying in the Bois de Boulogne woods in western Paris, Paris prosecutors’ spokeswoman, Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, said.
A judicial source added that "the first was piloting the drone, the second was filming and the third was watching".
Officials with Qatar-based Al-Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The journalists can be held for a maximum of 24 hours under French law. Flying drones without a license in France is illegal and carries a maximum one-year prison sentence and a 75,000 euro fine.
Wednesday’s incident comes on the heels of two consecutive nights of unidentified drones flying over the Eiffel Tower, the French Senate, the Gare de l’Est train station and other key landmarks in the city, including the US embassy.
An inquiry has been launched into the incidents.
It is still not known who was behind those flights, how many objects there were in total and even whether they were all coordinated.
Last month a drone caused worry after being sighted flying over the Elysée Palace, the residence of President François Hollande - following dozens of sightings of drones over nuclear plants and military installations.
These latest episodes have sparked particular concern, with Paris already on its highest security-alert after January’s deadly terrorist attacks by Islamist militants.
French authorities have said the drones currently present no threat, apart from the risk of falling on someone, but the government is trying to find ways to counteract the devices. Some fear the drones could be spying on technology or could one day be equipped with weapons.
Drone operator Jean-Luc Fournier, who has consulted on French drone legislation, said authorised operators condemn such rogue flights because it casts the whole industry in a bad light.
The FIFA task force responsible for picking the dates of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have provisionally proposed it should run from November 26 to December 23 - wrecking domestic calendars around the world if that comes to fruition.
While it was long anticipated that the task force would recommend a November-December tournament - and the specific dates still have to be ratified by FIFA’s executive committee (ExCo) next month - official confirmation of the general plan is already causing shock and anger.
The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been dogged by controversy ever since FIFA’s ExCo made that decision in December 2010
Allegations of widespread collusion and corruption overshadowed the process from the beginning. Multiple ExCo members from 2010 have since left surrounded by allegations of corruption. A report by investigator Michael Garcia remains secret, unpublished and subject to dispute between its author and FIFA.
The tournament was never intended to be played any time other than summer 2022. And yet Qatar remain on course - extraordinarily - to stage the event, albeit in winter.
The task force was convened after it became apparent that dangerous summer temperatures in Qatar in summer 2022 would make it unsafe for the players - and fans.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, who is the head of the Asian Football Confederation and head of the task force confirmed on Tuesday that November-December 2022 has now been recommended as the ideal time for the event.
He says all options will be reviewed by the task force recommendation which is expected to be ratified by the ExCo.
‘Some people have concerns, but whatever decision you're going to take will have some questions about it,’ Sheikh Salman said. ‘But we need to look at the overall benefit of everybody.’
The tournament will be shorter than usual by a few days but will remain the same size as currently, with 32 nations playing 64 matches.
The decision is sure to cause a huge furore, not least as the major leagues of Europe, who provide the majority of players to any World Cup finals, voice their opposition to a schedule that will smash a hole in the middle of their domestic calendar for the 2022-23 season, and disrupt seasons either side.
Premier League chief Richard Scudamore on Monday expressed his anger at the decision.
He said: 'Yeah, very disappointed that`s the word, I think, on behalf of the all the European leagues and particularly the European clubs who provide most of the players for this World Cup.'
A World Cup in January and February 2022 was ruled out to avoid a clash with the Winter Olympics.
The European Clubs’ Association of the major sides in Europe wanted a May-June tournament but that has been rejected for reasons unconfirmed. The Premier League remain opposed to a winter World Cup with a spokesman saying: ‘The 2022 World Cup was bid for and awarded to Qatar as a summer tournament. The prospect of a winter World Cup is neither workable nor desirable for European domestic football.’
The parliamentary elections committee in Menoufiya governorate has disqualified former leading National Democratic Party (NDP) member and steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz from running in the upcoming parliamentary poll, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported on Sunday.
The committee announced on Sunday the final list of candidates registered for the upcoming parliamentary elections to be held in March.
The list did not include the name of Ezz who seeked to run in Menoufiya’s El-Sadat district.
Judicial sources told Ahram Online that the steel tycoon was disqualified because he did not include in his registration documents the financial statements of his second wife Shahinaz El-Naggar, as well other documents related to medical examinations.
The source added that Ezz had already presented his financial statement as well the financial statements of his first wife as well as his children.
Shahinaz El-Naggar, Ezz’s wife, already announced that she intends to run for the parliamentary elections in Cairo’s Manial constituency.
Ahmed Ezz’s lawyer Mohamed Hamouda told Aswat Masriya that he would appeal against the decision to disqualify his client in front of the administrative court.
The Higher Elections Committee (HEC) will announce a preliminary list of candidates later on Sunday. The disqualified candidates have the right to appeal against the decisions of the committee within three days.
Ezz, who was recently freed from jail over corruption charges, served as the national organiser of Mubarak’s now-dissolved NDP. He also acted as the spokesperson for the NDP in parliament between 2005 and 2010.
The decision to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections drew criticism from many pro-25 January revolution political figures and parties as the 56-year-old is widely believed to have engineered widespread fraud during the 2010 parliamentary elections, securing an unprecedented majority for his party in the chamber.
Ezz was supposed to appear on TV for an interview on Al-Qahera Wal Nas TV channel on Saturday but the interview was cancelled.
In his first live TV interview on the phone since his release from prison, Ezz said that the owner of the TV channel decided not to air the interview without providing reasons.

Ezz is the chairman of Ezz Steel and has a 55 percent stake in EZDK, the largest steel complex in the Middle East. It was previously known as Alexandria National Iron and Steel Company (ANISC) before Ezz, then a mid-rank steel manufacturer, was called in to bail out the struggling publicly-owned company in 1999.
Ezz enjoyed a close relationship with Gamal Mubarak, the former president's son, who was reportedly being groomed to succeed his father as president.
The first round of the parliamentary elections in Egypt will kick off in March.

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