News / Middle East

Al Jazeera Journalists Trial Adjourned in Egypt

Al Jazeera reports that its journalists--Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fawzy--are being held after being arrested by Egyptian security forces, Dec. 29. (Al Jazeera)
Al Jazeera reports that its journalists--Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fawzy--are being held after being arrested by Egyptian security forces, Dec. 29. (Al Jazeera)
Elizabeth Arrott
An Egyptian court on Thursday temporarily adjourned the trial of 20 journalists, including three from the al-Jazeera television channel, in a case that many say highlights the military-backed interim government's crackdown on dissent and free speech.
The journalists, including four foreigners, are charged with spreading "false information" about Egypt and supporting or belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government sees as a terrorist group.
Of the twenty media workers indicted, eight are in custody, including Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Bahar Mohamed, who were imprisoned late last year. Others are being tried in absentia.
In their first court appearance, the defendants pleaded not guilty. After lawyers failed to secure the defendants' release on bail, trial was adjourned until next month.
Juris Greste, father of the award-winning al-Jazeera reporter, who is Australian, said he hopes his son will be released soon.
"Of course, as far as we are concerned, he's entirely and completely innocent," said Greste in Brisbane. "He should be either back home here or at his usual job [for al-Jazeera] in Nairobi."
Egypt's government says the case is not political but judicial, and has dismissed the outcry against the charges as foreign interference.
Many Egyptians and the pro-government media suspect foreign journalists of unfair coverage of the political upheaval in Egypt, but special anger is reserved for Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel that is widely seen as backing the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Qatar's rulers support the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ex-president Mohamed Morsi, and Egypt's interim government has criticized Qatari leaders for giving safe haven to Muslim Brotherhood members.
Al Jazeera, which has vehemently denied the charges, says only nine of the defendants worked for the network. The company's broadcast executives have defended their coverage and denounced charges against their journalists as "absurd, baseless and false."
International outcry
Egypt's prosecution of journalists as supporters of terrorism has attracted widespread international attention from fellow journalists, human-rights groups and others concerned about the state of press freedom in Egypt.
Journalists worldwide have launched a campaign of support for those accused in the case, and the United States and United Nations have both expressed concern. Al-Jazeera has also called on people worldwide to participate in a global day of action on February 27 to show solidarity with the journalists and pressure Egypt for their release.
Human Rights Watch said Thursday that the latest charges are political in nature, and that they demonstrate "how fast the space for dissent in Egypt is evaporating."
“Where else in the world has this happened? I mean, yes, these kind of charges get made, but usually what happens is a visa gets revoked, the reporter get expelled and so on," said Joe Stork, the New York-based group's deputy director, who called the case unprecedented. "It is a warning. It is intimidation."
Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were taken into custody in December at a Cairo hotel where they were working, following Egyptian authorities' closure of al-Jazeera's bureau there.
Authorities said they were working without accreditation, and accused them of editing video "to give the appearance that Egypt is in a civil war." Other charges against them include belonging to and possessing materials that supported a terrorist organization.
Greste, who described his coverage of Egypt as “routine,” has written letters from his prison cell denouncing the military-led government's refusal to tolerate any criticism, and he has noted the jail is becoming crowded by detainees picked up for challenging the state. Supporters say the conditions in which the journalists are held are deplorable, with vermin infesting the cells.
Since Morsi's ouster in July, the government has rounded up thousands of Brotherhood supporters and sympathizers. Over a thousand have also been killed in clashes with police, including several hundred Islamists who were killed when security forces broke up a sit-in demonstration in the Egyptian capital.
Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters have held almost daily protests against Egypt's military leadership since the coup that ousted Morsi. The military said the intervention was necessary because weeks of mass protests against Morsi and his policies were destabilizing the country. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied any role in in a series of bombings and other attacks against security forces since July.
Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization after a December bombing that was claimed by Islamic militant group Ansar Beit al Maqdas. Officials say the two groups are aligned, while members deny any links.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs