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The CPJ claims it has documented more than 12 attacks against journalists in Egypt over the past week

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An Australian journalist detained in Egypt on the first anniversary of the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak has been freed.

Cairo-based reporter Austin Mackell was detained alongside an American student and their Egyptian translator in the northern city of al-Mahalla al-Kubra on Saturday, while covering a nationwide strike by workers.

Mackell is a freelance who writes his own blog and has contributed to news outlets including the Guardian, the Canberra Times and Russia Today.

He told ABC's The World Today he was accused of spying and inciting people to strike.

"This is the standard line: that the people who are protesting, that the people who are fighting for their rights in any regard, are actually being paid by foreign agents. This is the line that state TV has run with on a number of occasions in similar cases, and it's what happened with us as well," he said.

"At first we were kept in an office, in a side office in the police station, but from there we were moved many times, I think six or seven times.

"We were being moved to stop activists and advocates and lawyers who we'd contacted via Twitter before our phones were taken from us. We'd put the word out and they were on their way looking for us. I've only realised coming out how hard they've all been batting for us, so I've got a huge amount of gratitude."

Mackell added: "There's absolutely no culture of transparency at all. I've been told I'll be deported and then I've been told that I won't. There are reports circulating that the charges have been dropped but we've also been told that the case is still open. It's an absolute mystery to me what will happen next."

The Committee to Protect Journalists says it has documented more than a dozen attacks against journalists in Egypt over the last week.

Deputy director Robert Mahoney said in a release: "These arrests are part of a disturbing pattern of attacks and harassment of media covering protests over the past few weeks."

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