Monday, June 23, 2014

Egyptian Court Spits On Free Press

Peter Greste Al Jazeera Photo
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammad from the Al Jazeera network received stiff prison sentences for doing what journalists the world over do, report the news. 

 While some experts say the journalists were biased, a claim that follows many news organizations, including those from the U.S., the basic concept of reporting the truth as the reporter sees it is over in Egypt. 

 Al Jazeera established an English division which maintained independent editorial positions from it's Arabic home division based in Qatar. The Arabic division of Al Jazeera has been generally friendly to the Muslim Brotherhood, to which past Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was a member. It became illegal to belong to the Muslim Brotherhood after Morsi was ousted by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

 The sentences are nothing short of a slap in the face to the U.S. after U.S. Sec. of State, John Kerry's, visit to Egypt ended Sunday. The Egyptian government assured the U.S. the trial would be fair as the U.S. handed out $570 million dollars in aid including 10 Apache attack helicopters. Some in congress are now calling into question whether the U.S. has it's priorities in the right place. 

Mohamed Fahmy Al Jazeera Photo

 The evidence against the journalists was hardly convincing. It included footage shot by Greste for the BBC as a former Australian journalist, along with B-roll and tourist shots. Defense attorneys had difficulty accessing the evidence and cross examination was hampered by frequent interruptions from the judge. 

Perhaps more troubling than a government which jails anyone who opines an unpopular point of view, is the response from various countries which value free speech, which mostly seemed to shrug their shoulders. Sec. of State Kerry issued a terse statement, but the aid promised appears to remain despite the clear rebuff. 

Baher Mohammad
Al Jazeera Photo
Apparently Sec. of State John Kerry's statement the verdict is "a deeply disturbing set-back to Egypt's transition" carries no more weight than Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi's promise the trial would be fair.  The sentence stands, a miscarriage of justice and basic due process has occurred, yet everyone appears to be carrying on as if today's announcement underscores the kind of principles Apache helicopters were designed to enforce.

Journalists world wide now have a great deal to fear.  That includes student journalists since the four student journalists supporting the Al Jazeera team received equally harsh sentences for doing what student journalists are supposed to do.

Reports from the Daily Beast were relied upon in this piece.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Join our community and share your voice! No spam, please, it will be deleated, your time is spent better making a positive contribution! But sure, we need to hear from you!