Journalists who work for the Al Jazeera T.V. network are being charged with conspiring with a terrorist group and broadcasting inaccurate images of “a civil war that raises alarms about the state’s collapse.” by Egyptian prosecutors according to New York Times. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and declared a terrorist organization by the government, the leaders have been jailed and over a thousand of their supporters have been killed. The charges being bought against the journalists are said to just be the newest turn in the “clampdown on public dissent by the military-backed government”.
Al Jazeera is basically the only major Arabic-language news outlet that is available in Egypt and shows the brotherhood sympathy of some sort and criticizes the government. For this reason the government is considering those who work for this news outlet terrorist since they support the brotherhood that the government considers a group of terrorists.
President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted six months ago and since then the Egyptian government has been on a rampage to shut down any media outlets that have some sort of connection to him and/or the Brotherhood. While the private-owned news organizations have been in support of the government’s extreme crack-down on Islamists and anyone in support of them. Pressing charges against those who just want the truth.
According to CNN, four of the men who were detained are not Egyptian natives. One of the correspondents is an Australian, Peter Greste, two are unidentified Englishmen and one is an unnamed Dutchman. Peter Greste of Australia has actually been able to reach out and have a letter released by Al Jazeera straight from his jail cell. It is not known exactly how the network received this letter but in the letter he explains that he and the others “had been doing exactly as any responsible, professional journalist would – recording and trying to make sense of the unfolding events with all the accuracy, fairness and balance that our imperfect trade demands.” Greste believes that their arrests are just a way for the Egyptian government to limit media freedoms. He also explains that the prisons have horrible conditions. Prisoners are constantly denied basic rights like visits from lawyers and are being locked in cells for 20-24 hours a day in some instances.
It is a true shame that these men were working to expose the truth as journalists but being considered terrorists by those in charge because they chose to speak out against the injustices in Egypt. This shows just how much power the government has over the media. While they may not be able to right out make laws banning media from going against them they can charge members of the media with bogus charges. Once those who want to expose the truth are placed in jail it becomes tougher for the truth to be told. Hopefully, these men return home safely and are able to continue to fight for justice and the truth.