American and local filmmaker detained in Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) - An American translator and an Egyptian filmmaker were detained in Cairo and have been held for three days in an undisclosed location, their lawyer said Saturday.

Ahmed Hassan, a lawyer with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, told The Associated Press that U.S. citizen Jeremy Hodge, 26, of Los Angeles, and Egyptian filmmaker Hossam Eddin el-Meneai, 36, were arrested Wednesday night at their apartment in the Dokki neighborhood of Cairo. Hassan said that officers at the local police station first acknowledged they were holding the two but later denied that they were in custody. It is not immediately clear why the two were detained.

The Interior Ministry declined to comment.

Hassan said he believes the two are being held by Egypt's National Security Agency, the country's domestic spy service. He said he has filed a report with authorities saying the two have been "kidnapped."

Hassan called the detentions part of a "wave of intimidation of journalists" in Egypt. There has been a rise in cases where citizens detain journalists and foreigners amid a growing nationalist fervor and panic over foreign plots to destabilize the country.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo confirmed that a U.S. citizen was detained and that officials are "providing all appropriate consular assistance," declining to comment further.

Hodge is a freelance translator working in Egypt. His roommate el-Meneai is a filmmaker, originally from the restive Northern Sinai province where militants attack security and military forces.

A statement issued by friends of the two included text messages that Hodge sent after they were detained.

"They're asking Hossam about Sinai and his camera," Hodge wrote. "They're asking me how I know him, and where I learned my Arabic." In another text message, he wrote: "Hossam is being investigated, I'm waiting around."

Hodge suffers from asthma, his friends said. It is not clear if he has access to his medication.

In a separate incident, Egyptian artist and filmmaker Aalam Wassef was briefly detained along with a Swiss citizen on Friday, and was later released without charge, lawyers said. It was not immediately clear why the two were taken from Wassef's apartment that overlooks Tahrir Square, where rallies took place Saturday on the third anniversary of Egypt's 2011 uprising.

Wassef has made videos critical of the government and former autocrat Hosni Mubarak. He worked under a pseudonym when Mubarak was in power and began putting out videos under his own name after the autocrat's fall.

Three journalists working for satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera English also have been held since Dec. 29, with one of them spending long hours in solitary confinement. Authorities initially accused them of being part of a terrorist group, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, and spreading false news about Egypt. They have yet to be formally charged.

Since July 2013, at least five journalists have been killed, 45 journalists assaulted, and 11 news outlets raided in Egypt, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The group also reported that at least 44 journalists have also been detained "without charge in pretrial procedures, which, at times, have gone on for months."

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American and local filmmaker detained in Egypt
Egyptians salvage what they can of documents after an explosion at the Egyptian police headquarters in downtown Cairo, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. A car bomb struck the Egyptian police headquarters in downtown Cairo on Friday, killing at least several people and wounding dozens, the country's state media reported. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
An Egyptian man stands in rubble after an explosion at the Egyptian police headquarters in downtown Cairo, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. Three bombings hit high-profile areas around Cairo on Friday, including a suicide car bomber who struck the city's police headquarters, killing several people in the first major attack on the Egyptian capital as insurgents step up a campaign of violence following the ouster of the Islamist president. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi damage an area on a street as they protest against the government in Cairo's Nasr City district, Egypt, Friday, Jan, 24, 2014. A string of bombings hit police around Cairo on Friday, including a car blast that ripped through the city's main police headquarters and wrecked a nearby museum of Islamic artifacts. Later in the day, anti-Islamist residents joined police in clashes with Brotherhood members holding their daily protests in multiple cities around the country. (AP Photos/El Shorouk newspaper, Sabry Khaled) EGYPT OUT
An Egyptian policeman shouts at bystanders to keep away from the site of a blast at the Egyptian police headquarters in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. A car bomb struck the main Egyptian police headquarters Friday in the heart of Cairo, killing at least several people in a hugely symbolic attack on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
A policeman injured in a bombing that targeted police headquarters rests in a hospital in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. A string of bombings hit police around Cairo on Friday, including a car blast that ripped through the city's main police headquarters and wrecked a nearby museum of Islamic artifacts. Several people were killed in the most significant attack yet in the Egyptian capital at a time of mounting confrontation between Islamists and the military-backed government. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gamil)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JANUARY 24: Clashes between anti-coup people and Egyptian security forces is ongoing in the Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt on January 24, 2014. (Photo by Muhammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JANUARY 24: Clashes between anti-coup people and Egyptian security forces is ongoing in the Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt on January 24, 2014. (Photo by Muhammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Egyptians gather next to a damaged car on January 24, 2014 following a fourth bomb explosion in a neighbourhood close to the Giza pyramids in the Egyptian capital Cairo. A suicide car bomber struck Cairo police headquarters, the first of four blasts in Egypt's capital that killed at least six people on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising. AFP PHOTO / AHMED TARANH (Photo credit should read AHMED TARANH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers secure a crater left in front of Cairo's police directorate after someone detonated a car bomb Friday morning, Jan 24, 2014, killing at least five and injuring 51 others. It was the deadliest attack against security forces in Cairo since the 2011 uprising. (Amina Ismail/MCT via Getty Images)
Police officers secure a crater left in front of Cairo's police directorate after someone detonated a car bomb Friday morning, Jan 24, 2014, killing at least five and injuring 51 others. It was the deadliest attack against security forces in Cairo since the 2011 uprising. (Amina Ismail/MCT via Getty Images)
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