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Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera’s Tony Harris on ‘Unconscionable’ Imprisonment of Colleagues Who Guided Him

Press Freedom

Al Jazeera executives and anchors, global diplomats, and several members of the media gathered this afternoon at the United Nations for a town hall on press freedom. There were also three chairs left empty (pictured above), symbolically held for Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed, and Mohamed Fahmy who were found guilty Monday in a courtroom outside Cairo.

“These people were amazing in terms of their knowledge, and their willingness to share what they knew about the region with an American who was coming to the Middle East to learn and report on what was happening,” Al Jazeera America anchor Tony Harris told TVNewser at the event. Harris, a former CNN anchor, met the journalists several years ago when he began anchoring for Al Jazeera English.

“The idea that these guys would be imprisoned right now, essentially fighting for their reputations, fighting for their lives, is just unconscionable to me.”

Egyptian U.N. diplomat Osama Abdelkhalek Mahmoud spoke at the event, but declined to comment on the case, citing Egypt’s constitution. (Egypt’s new president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has also said he will not interfere in the ruling.) Read more

Egypt’s Ruling Against Al Jazeera Journalists Might Risk U.S. Aid

al jazeera journalists 304Reuters reports U.S. lawmakers are considering decreasing aid to Egypt following the country’s convictions against three Al Jazeera journalists and death sentences for close to 200 Muslim Brotherhood members.

The chairman of the U.S. Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid said further funds should be withheld until Egypt’s leaders demonstrate a commitment to human rights, and a senior member of the equivalent House of Representatives panel offered legislation to redistribute some of the U.S. money.

“Withholding military aid to the Egyptian regime has let its leaders know that repressive actions and abuses of human rights and the rule of law are deeply concerning to the American people, and to many in Congress,” Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the subcommittee chairman, said in a statement ruing Cairo’s “descent toward despotism.”

On Tuesday, Egypt’s newly elected president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said he would not interfere with judicial verdicts, following an international outcry over lengthy prison sentences given to three al Jazeera journalists this week.

Following Monday’s ruling against Al Jazeera’s journalists, President Obama released a statement strongly condemning the verdict, calling it one that “flouts the most basic standards of media freedom and represents a blow to democratic progress in Egypt.”

TVNewser will be covering a UN Correspondents Association “Press Freedom” town hall this afternoon in New York City, which was called to discuss how to help the jailed Al Jazeera journalists.

Journalists Worldwide Protest Egypt’s Al Jazeera Verdict

Journalists around the world are standing in solidarity with three Al Jazeera journalists who were sentenced yesterday to seven to 10 years in prison. The Huffington Post has posted a collection of tweets showing support for Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, including this one from the BBC:

The Obama administration has released a statement that reads in part, “The United States strongly condemns the verdicts rendered against three Al-Jazeera journalists and 15 other defendants today in Egypt. The prosecution of journalists for reporting information that does not coincide with the Government of Egypt’s narrative flouts the most basic standards of media freedom and represents a blow to democratic progress in Egypt.”

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the president of Egypt, said he will not interfere in the case’s ruling.

Following Conviction of Journalists, AJAM to Produce Special on Press Freedom

AJASpecialFollowing today’s guilty verdicts in the trial of several Al Jazeera journalists, the network’s American channel will produce a special on the case and on press freedom — or lack of it — around the world.

“War on Truth” airs at 8:30pmET tonight and will be hosted by David Shuster. Shuster will interview Al Jazeera English reporter Sue Turton – another of the AJE journalists sentenced by the Egyptian court. Turton, a British journalist, was sentenced in absentia.

Al Jazeera America’s Jonathan Betz will cover world reaction to the sentencing and Randall Pinkston and Ben Moran will put together a look at other journalists in danger.

“Consider This” at 10 pm with host Antonio Mora will also feature a full hour on press freedom.

Al Jazeera America CEO Ehab Al Shihabi will be interviewed on PBS’ “Charlie Rose,” airing tonight.

Jailed Al Jazeera Journalists Convicted in Egypt

detained al jazeera journalistsSix months after their arrest in Egypt, three Al Jazeera journalists have been found guilty of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, the network reports:

The guilty verdicts were delivered by a judge on Monday against Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in jail, while Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of ammunition.

Other Al Jazeera journalists being tried in absentia were sentenced to 10 years. Their names are: Alaa Bayoumi, Anas Abdel-Wahab Khalawi Hasan, Khaleel Aly Khaleel Bahnasy, Mohamed Fawzi, Dominic Kane and Sue Turton.

Al Jazeera has always rejected the charges against its journalists and maintains their innocence.

In a statement, Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said: “Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue to be kept behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists. ‘Guilty’ of covering stories with great skill and integrity. ‘Guilty’ of defending people’s right to know what is going on in their world.  Read more

Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalist on Hunger Strike to be Released

ElshamyAn imprisoned Al Jazeera journalist who’s been on a hunger strike for over four months will be released from an Egyptian prison on the order of the country’s top prosecutor, the AP reports.

Abdullah Elshamy and 12 others will be freed due to “health conditions.” Elshamy was taken in by Egyptian authorities last August while covering a protest held by supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Elshamy was never formally charged with a crime, and began a hunger strike in protest. His family had previously asked for him to be moved from prison to a hospital, citing his severe anemia and kidney problems.

“This is a relief rather than a cause for celebration,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson said in a statement. “Abdullah has been through a terrible ordeal for over ten months. He’ll want to spend time with his family and recuperate. When he’s ready, we look forward to seeing him back in action, doing the vital job of journalism that he so clearly loves.”

The news comes on the same day a verdict date of June 23 was set for three other Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt.

Verdict Date Set in Al Jazeera Journalists’ Trial

detained al jazeera journalistsReuters reports the verdict in the trial of three imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists will be announced on June 23.

As the court announced the verdict date today, the journalists’ defense lawyers reiterated that this “trial is not a trial for these defendants alone – but a trial of all journalists.”

As the journalists’ defense lawyers made their closing arguments a little over a week ago, Fahmy shouted from his cage: “You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty…in this situation, we are guilty the second you are arrested, treated worse than criminals, rapists, and killers.”

“On the balance of arguments, Al Jazeera hopes the judge will take into consideration the facts presented to him and acquit Peter, Baher and Mohammed of any wrong doing,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson said in a statement. “On June 23rd, the entire world will be watching Egypt to see whether they uphold the values of press freedom.”

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed have been imprisoned in Egypt since the end of last year, charged with aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.

Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalist Shouts From Cage: ‘This is About a Free Press’

FahmyOn the same day lawyers for three imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists made their closing arguments, one of those journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, shouted from his cage.

“You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty,” Fahmy yelled yesterday during a courtroom recess. “In this situation, we are guilty the second you are arrested, treated worse than criminals, rapists, and killers.”

He also expressed what he thinks this trial is really about. “This is about free press. Democracy and free press. They don’t believe in free press.”

The three Al Jazeera journalists’ trial is adjourned until June 16. Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and Peter Greste have been held in Egypt since the end of last year.

WATCH:

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Networks’ D-Day +70 Coverage Plans

D-day_Normandy_Nara_26-G-2343Broadcast and cable news networks will provide special coverage this week for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

“CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” is doing a weeklong series, with correspondents Jim Axelrod, Mark Phillips and Dean Reynolds speaking to World War II veterans about their stories from the invasion. Phillips and Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante, fresh off a cycling tour of France, will provide coverage from Normandy on Friday’s 70th anniversary.

Brian Williams will anchor special editions of “NBC Nightly News” from the site of the American cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach on Thursday and Friday. Joining Williams on-the-ground in Normandy will be special correspondent and author of “The Greatest Generation,” Tom Brokaw, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, and national correspondent Peter Alexander. And on the evening of the anniversary Friday, NBC News will air an 8pmET primetime special, “Brian Williams Reporting: Journey to Normandy,” spotlighting four World War II veterans as they make their return to Normandy.

On Friday, “World News with Diane Sawyer” will air the story of 90-year-old Cosmo Uttero, who is traveling to Normandy this week for the first time since he and the Allied troops invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944. Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl will also report from Normandy on Friday, as he covers President Obama’s speech.

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Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalist: ‘The Prosecutors Should be in the Cage’

The trial of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt was adjourned again yesterday. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed, who have been in jail for 156 days on charges of aiding a terrorist group, were returned to their cells after a brief hearing.

“Members of the technical committee could not recall one example of what they believed was fabricated coverage from the Al Jazeera team. They also could not proffer an opinion on how national security of Egypt was endangered either,” Al Jazeera reports of the proceedings.

A fourth Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, has been held since last August. He has been on a hunger strike since January.

Al Jazeera continues to reject the charges against the journalists and call for their release. [h/t HuffPo Media]

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