الثلاثاء , مايو 18 2021

Egypt set for al-Jazeera verdict



Baher Mohamed (left), Peter Greste (centre) and Mohamed Fahmy behind bars in a court in Cairo, 1 June 2014

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The three journalists were detained in a raid on their Cairo hotel in December

A court in Egypt will deliver verdicts in the case of three al-Jazeera journalists detained since December.

Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are accused of spreading false news and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. They deny the charges.

The case has caused an international outcry, with rights groups saying the trial is politicised.

Australian PM Tony Abbott has appealed to Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi for Mr Greste’s release.

Prosecutors have asked the judge to sentence the men to between 15 and 25 years in prison.

The court is trying a total of 20 people, including nine al-Jazeera employees.

‘Vindictive persecution’

The BBC’s Christian Fraser in Cairo says the evidence put forward earlier in court did nothing to support the serious charges brought.

The judge was shown photographs from Mr Greste’s family holiday, a Sky Arabia report on cruelty to horses and a video of a press conference in Nairobi, our correspondent adds.

Tony Abbott said he told Mr Sisi that “as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, he would have simply been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“The point I made was that in the long run, a free and vigorous media are good for democracy, good for security, good for stability,” he added.



Michael Greste

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Peter Greste’s brother Michael says he is feeling “trepidation” ahead of a possible verdict

Mr Greste’s brother Michael told the BBC that the family was trying “to be as optimistic as we can,” but was filled with “an amount of trepidation” as they awaited the verdicts.

He said, while hoping for Mr Greste’s release, “it might not happen – because it’s no certainty, that’s for sure.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been visiting Cairo, said he spoke to Egyptian officials about “the essential role of a vibrant civil society, free press, rule of law and due process in a democracy”.

Earlier this month, another Al-Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, was released on medical grounds.

The Qatar-based al-Jazeera network is banned from operating inside Egypt after the authorities accused it of broadcasting reports sympathetic to former President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera has consistently denied the allegations.

Qatar has supported the Brotherhood and is unpopular with Egypt’s government.

Rights group Amnesty International has previously described the trial as a “vindictive persecution of journalists for merely doing their jobs”.

“The journalists appear to be pawns in the hands of the authorities in their ongoing dispute with Qatar,” they said.

Egypt’s authorities have cracked down harshly on Islamists and secular activists since Mr Morsi was removed by the military in July 2013.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested.

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