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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard 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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

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 Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

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.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs