Fahmy and Greste: How Al Jazeera Blundered Its Way to Journalists' Arrests
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The sentencing of Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed to seven to ten years in Egyptian prison erupted across front page news headlines throughout the world. Photo: Front page of New York Times, June 24 2014 (highlights by iMediaEthics)

CAIRO, Egypt– Network Flouted Laws While Supporting Radical Groups Inside Egypt, Endangering Safety of Three Journalists Now Held Captive

Al Jazeera English always tried to work separately from its sister Arabic channel to avoid trouble with Egyptian authorities.

This paid off, as the English channel resumed operation even when the Al Jazeera Arabic channel’s offices in the same building were raided and shut down in July 2013.

Al Jazeera English resumed operation until authorities discovered that the Al Jazeera Arabic was using Al Jazeera English to air footage filmed in Egypt. One of these stories was a report by Nicole Johnson, Al Jazeera English correspondent, on the social help Muslim Brothers were giving to Alhagana village near Cairo. This report was dubbed into Arabic and broadcasted at Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, considered a pirate broadcasting channel in Egypt. Authorities raided the office of Al Jazeera English, and confiscated computers and a camera in September 2013.

I have been providing transmission and live studio facilities in Cairo to Al Jazeera English since its launch in 2006. In 2008, when I transmitted the hunger demonstrations at the delta of Egypt for them, police raided my office and confiscated the equipment. I endured a trial for 14 months and faced the threat of fines as well as three years of prison. So when the police raided the Al Jazeera English offices, I was surprised at how strange their inaction and reactions were in light of my prior experience.

 

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This commentary is part of iMediaEthics’ Investigative series on international media reporting on Egypt. iMediaEthics’ editor-in-chief and publisher, Rhonda Roland Shearer, spent much of May and June in Egypt reporting for this series. She worked with Nader Gohar and his CNC team to produce video reports for iMediaEthics. Arabic Version of this story found on Almorakib.com   Go to Main Investigation

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During the raid, Abdullah Mussa, who is credited at the Egyptian State Information Services as the head of Al Jazeera English channel was not present. Yet on the same day, he decided to fly to Doha, the capital city of Qatar, without informing anyone rather than remain in Cairo to face the authorities.

Mussa should have immediately filed a complaint at the Egyptian State Information Service from which Al Jazeera English has permits and operates under its auspices. He should have hired a lawyer and demanded the return of his equipment instead of escaping to Doha, especially since authorities confiscated some equipment but did not arrest any of the staff.

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Fahmy and Greste: How Al Jazeera Blundered Its Way to Journalists’ Arrests in Egypt

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