Egypt prosecutors charge four Al-Jazeera reporters

Egypt prosecutors charge four Al-Jazeera reporters
Fri Jan 17, 2014 07:45:37

Egyptian state prosecutors have charged four Al-Jazeera English reporters, who were detained last month, with "possessing unlicensed broadcast equipment used to damage Egypt’s national security, publishing false news to disrupt national peace and possessing false images aimed at tarnishing the country’s reputation and weakening its financial trust."

The charges were announced in a statement released by the Egyptian prosecutor general on Thursday.

“The prosecution refers to Law 96/1996, which regulates the press, and states that [the press is to] … practice its freedoms with a responsibility toward serving the community by expressing different opinions and shaping public opinion,” the statement read.

“The prosecution acknowledges that putting restrictions on freedom of speech is unlawful, until such point as this freedom negatively affects national security and the country’s interests.”

It also added that some of the defendants had "confessed during the investigations that they had joined the terrorist group [The Muslim Brotherhood]...[and] it has been proven that the defendants gathered and edited video material to re-create reports fabricating the situation in Egypt to tarnish the country’s reputation and delude international public opinion by saying that a civil war is going on in Egypt.”

Al-Jazeera denies the allegations, stating that the journalists "were only doing their jobs."

The station's Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, producer Baher Mohammed, and cameraman Mohammed Fawzy were arrested on December 29, 2013 and have been in detention ever since.

The army-backed Egyptian authorities have been harshly cracking down on domestic and foreign media, as well as activists and political opponents, ever since the Muslim Brotherhood were declared a "terrorist organization" last month.

BA/BA

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