A ferocious attack on media freedom

Amnesty International reports a horrible development.

The conviction today of three Al Jazeera English journalists accused of “falsifying news” and belonging to or assisting the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt is a ferocious attack on media freedom, said Amnesty International.

The three journalists – Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, all considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience – were sentenced to seven years in jail. Baher Mohamed received a further three years on a separate charge of possessing a bullet shell. They have been detained since 29 December 2013.

“This is a devastating verdict for the men and their families, and a dark day for media freedom in Egypt, when journalists are being locked up and branded criminals or ‘terrorists’ simply for doing their job,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The only reason these three men are in jail is because the Egyptian authorities don’t like what they have to say. They are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released. In Egypt today anyone who dares to challenge the state’s narrative is considered a legitimate target.”

An Amnesty International trial observer recorded several irregularities and examples of complete ineptitude during the proceedings. In 12 court sessions, the prosecution failed to produce a single shred of solid evidence linking the journalists to a terrorism organization or proving they had “falsified” news footage.

“The trial was a complete sham. Consigning these men to years in prison after such a farcical spectacle is a travesty of justice,” said Philip Luther.

Prosecutors obstructed the defendants’ right to review and challenge the evidence presented against them. The prosecution also appeared unprepared and disorganized, often presenting irrelevant evidence.

Key witnesses for the prosecution also appeared to contradict their own written testimony. Technical experts admitted on cross-examination that they were unable to confirm whether Al Jazeera journalists had doctored images or carried unauthorized equipment.

“The verdict provides further evidence that Egyptian authorities will stop at nothing in the ruthless campaign to crush anyone who challenges the official narrative, regardless of how questionable the evidence against them is,” said Philip Luther.

And that matters. We can’t fight for our rights if we don’t know what rights are being taken away until it’s too late.



  1. says

    WTF, Egypt? If none of the parties wanting control there have a platform of “Let’s not kill and imprison people for political reasons”, then Egypt has never changed anything except hands as far back as I can see.

    Some context, if you haven’t been following this particular gig, which I wasn’t:

    In a written statement issued after the verdict and sentences were announced, the Public Prosecutor’s office said the men had been convicted of creating recordings and other matieral “to be shown to others and presented before the public in Egypt and abroad, with the aim of giving the impression to foreign public opinion that Egypt is undergoing a civil war, in order to weaken the state and its standing, harm the national interests of the country, agitate public security, spread terror among the people, and damage public interests.”


    Not only is this outrageous as far as I can tell, but also beyond weird.

  2. plainenglish says

    It is the interest of all international communities to come out very strongly and insistently on this matter. Without a freedom to report the news, there is only propaganda. At least in some parts of the world we can choose between Faux News and other sources. Amnesty International is a long time friend. They remain impartial yet speak out loudly and clearly. There is no more important international news just now than this story.

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