Egyptian prosecutors charge 20 journalists

Rebecca Hawkes | 30-01-2014

Twenty reporters are now facing charges in Egypt, with 16 nationals being accused of belonging to a "terrorist organisation", prosecutors say.

The four foreign journalists – two Britons, an Australian and a Dutch citizen – are facing charges of assisting this so-called "terrorist organisation" or spreading false news.

The Australian is presumed to be Peter Greste, one of three Al Jazeera English journalists arrested in Cairo on 29 December 2013, although this has not been confirmed. The Qatar-based news network's Egyptian-Canadian producer Mohamed Fahmy and Al Jazeera's second producer Baher Mohamed are also thought to

be among the Egyptian journalists now facing charges.
"Investigations showed the defendants created a media network headed by an Egyptian-Canadian Muslim Brotherhood member that has specialised in creating video scenes contrary to reality and aired them through Qatari Al Jazeera English to distort Egypt's international reputation," prosecutors said.

Other charges include "disturbing public peace, instilling terror, harming the general interests of the country, possessing broadcast equipment without permit, possessing and disseminating images contrary to the truth".

The identities of the other journalists remain unclear, although two journalists from sister channels Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr ¬– Abdullah Al Shami and Mohamed Bader – have been in prison for the past five months.

On its website, Al Jazeera said it had "no knowledge of other people reportedly being pursued by the Egyptian authorities and that the network currently has no journalists reporting from the country.'
The broadcaster added that its five detained journalists had received no official notification of any developments in their cases.

"The world knows these allegations against our journalists are absurd, baseless and false," said a spokesman.
"This is a challenge to free speech, to the right of journalists to report on all aspects of events, and to the right of people to know what is going on."