Thursday, September 24, 2015

Egypt: Journalists Pardoned

The New York Times reports President Abdel Fattah el­Sisi has pardoned pardoned Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, two imprisoned journalists from the Al Jazeera English news network "as well as dozens of other political prisoners" The Times suggests the pardons "appeared to be part of a customary prisoner release on the eve of the Eid al­Adha holiday." An official statement said they were the result of humanitarian and health reasons “in line with the president’s initiative last December to release detained youth.”

Says the Times:
Since Mr. Sisi led the military takeover of the government more than two years ago, the authorities have systematically rounded up perceived opponents, including Islamists and secular­leaning activists, filling Egypt’s jails.
Amnesty International called the jailing of the journalists “ludicrous." A third Al Jazeera colleague was also in December 2013 for "broadcasting false news" and for "belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement." Says the Times:
But prosecutors never presented any evidence that the journalists had belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood or that they had been engaged in anything other than reporting the news. Rather, their arrests were seen as part of a wider crackdown on free speech and dissent by the military­backed government, as well as a result of Egypt’s feud with Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera and has been the main international supporter of the Brotherhood. The journalists were convicted in their first trial and drew terms of seven to 10 years in prison. In January, Egypt’s highest court ordered a retrial, in what appeared to be an acknowledgment of the many flaws of the first ... But in August, a judge sentenced Mr. Fahmy and Mr. Mohamed to three years in prison, repeating the charge that they had fabricated news reports. 
See full story here.

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