Journalists held as Muslim agents
CAIRO — Egyptian authorities on Wednesday charged 20 journalists who work for the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel, including five who hold foreign citizenship, with being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood and accused them of plotting to defame Egypt and of running a terrorist cell out of a luxurious Cairo hotel.
If convicted, they could get life in prison.
Among those charged were Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian who was the news channel's acting Egypt bureau chief, and Peter Greste, an Australian who was the channel's English-language correspondent. Both are well known internationally and have worked for Britain's BBC. Fahmy, who's worked for CNN, McClatchy and The New York Times, is the author of a respected book on Egyptian politics. Two Britons and a Dutch citizen also were charged.
The charges shocked local and international journalists, human rights groups, the families of those detained and even some Egyptians, and they dashed any hopes that the military-backed government would embrace the freedom of speech referenced in a newly ratified constitution.
The state prosecutor's formal filing of accusations — by far the most serious charges leveled against journalists — signaled that those who cover opponents of the government might be imprisoned as terrorists alongside the nation's worst criminals.
Since the military ousted former President Mohamed Morsy last July, the government has undertaken a massive crackdown on his supporters and other political dissidents that's resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests. One Egyptian human rights group has estimated that more than 21,000 people have been detained. Two journalism advocacy groups said there had been at least 30 incidents of journalists being harassed or arrested for doing their work so far this month.
“Security forces are still repressing journalists in an unprecedented manner,” the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate said in a statement issued before the charges were announced.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Popular tourist spot attacked in Afghanistan
- Rocket fired from Gaza Strip strikes Israeli port
- Nuclear talks bog down as Iran team balks at key decisions, envoys say
- Iraqi militias begin move on Ramadi
- American reporter’s espionage trial begins
- Malaysian authorities find mass graves, link them to human trafficking
- Iranian aid ship on final approach to Yemen