Egypt: Terrorism charges for Al-Jazeera journalists
New accusations of terrorism have been levelled at four members of Al Jazeera’s Cairo news team, including false news and joining a terrorist organisation.
According to a Tuesday statement by spokesman for the prosecutor Ahmad El-Rakib, correspondent Peter Greste, bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy are charged with “joining a terrorist organisation, publishing false news harming national security, terrorising people and harming the people’s general benefit, and possessing broadcast equipment without licence.”
The statement details the journalists’ arrest, Baher from his home in 6 October, and the rest of the team from the Marriott Hotel in Zamalek which they had used as a temporary base of operations.
“[The Al Jazeera team] rented two suites in a touristic hotel to use as a media centre to gather videos and edit them to show that Egypt is witnessing a civil war, harming Egypt’s political position and to serve the Brotherhood goals. The defendant[s] broadcast the edited material through Al-Jazeera and CNN,” read the statement.
Greste, an Australian, Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian and Egyptian nationals Baher and Fawzy have been ordered to be detained for 15 days pending investigation.
Doha-based Al-Jazeera, seen by many Egyptians as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, has been no stranger to government sanctions since Mohamed Morsi’s 3 July ouster at the hands of the military, including arrests, confiscations and raids on their offices.
On 25 December, Egypt’s cabinet designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group following the bombing of a police station in Mansoura that left 16 dead and more than 130 people injured. The Brotherhood has condemned the attack, and denied involvement.
Under the new designation, people participating in Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations could face up to five years in prison, while those leading demonstrations could face the death penalty.