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Egypt must end ‘vindictive’ detention of journalists

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PRESS RELEASE
10 April 2014

Egypt must end ‘vindictive’ detention of Al Jazeera journalists

Egypt’s continued detention of three Al Jazeera journalists charged with falsifying news and involvement with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement is “vindictive”, Amnesty International said ahead of the trio’s latest trial hearing.

Al Jazeera English staff Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, along with five Egyptian students, stand accused of belonging to or assisting a banned terrorist organization -in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Their trial resumes in Cairo on 10 April.

“What the Egyptian authorities are doing is vindictive persecution of journalists for merely doing their jobs,” said Amnesty International’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Programme Deputy Director.

“So far, the Prosecution has failed to produce any convincing evidence and the journalists appear to be pawns in the hands of the authorities in their ongoing dispute with Qatar. The truth is that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed are prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

The men have been detained since 29 December 2013, when security forces arrested Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo and Baher Mohamed at his home. The five Egyptian students were arrested two days later.

At their last hearing on 31 March, the judge ordered forensic experts to examine three of the students, after they alleged security forces had beaten them during their arrest.

The authorities are also denying Mohamed Fahmy adequate medical treatment for a shoulder injury sustained in the days before his arrest. The journalist has a fractured bone in his arm and his condition has worsened considerably due to lack of adequate medical care and the poor prison conditions he has endured, including over a month spent in the maximum-security Scorpion Prison after his arrest.

“This trial is nothing more than posturing by the authorities to gain public support,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“This farce must end and the charges against the three men must be dropped.”

ENDS/

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