Tuesday, June 24, 2014

prison terms for Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt is simply petty vindictiveness

An Egyptian court has convicted three journalists from Al-Jazeera English and sentenced them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges, bringing widespread criticism that the verdict was a blow to freedom of expression.

More than that, it has everything to do with the fact that the government of the country where Al Jazzera is based, Qatar, supported the overthrown Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The three, Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed, have been detained since a December raid on their Cairo hotel room, which they were using as an office as they covered protests by supporters of the ousted Islamist president. The raid was part of a broad crackdown against Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

They had pleaded innocent, saying they were simply doing their jobs as journalists. But they were charged with supporting the Brotherhood, which has been declared a terrorist organisation, and of fabricating footage to undermine Egypt’s national security and make it appear the country was facing civil war. The prosecution provided little evidence in the case, showing video footage found in their possession — most of which had nothing to do with the case, including a report on a veterinary hospital in Cairo, Christian life and old footage of Greste from previous assignments elsewhere in Africa.

The present regime in Egypt may have overthrown a dictatorial Muslim one, but in this it is behaving in exactly the same way.

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