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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

Why Europe and the US may be "whistling past the graveyard?" More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid