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Issue #1645      July, 2, 2014

MEAA condemns verdict in Al Jazeera trial

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), the union and professional association for Australia’s journalists, condemns the verdict of the Cairo court in the case involving journalists from Al Jazeera English and calls on Egyptian authorities to urgently intervene to free the three journalists who have been detained for simply doing their jobs.

Nairobi-based Al Jazeera English reporter Australian Peter Greste, the Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and the Al Jazeera producer Baher Mohamed have been detained since December 29 – part of that time they were held in solitary confinement.

The verdict of the court, despite the lack of evidence and bizarre court proceedings over more than a dozen hearings, is an appalling attack on press freedom and carries an implicit threat to all media working in Egypt.

The court proceedings have been farcical from the outset and there has not been a shred of evidence presented by the prosecution that in any way implicates the journalists in the charges of defaming Egypt and having ties to the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood. Contrary to the charges the three journalists have behaved ethically and responsibly while reporting on a complex, rapidly changing political environment in Egypt.

Evidence presented to the court by the prosecution included holiday photographs of Peter Greste’s parents, a recording of popular Australian singer Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know; Greste’s award-winning reports from East Africa, Sky News Arabia’s tourism reports, poorly photoshopped images, and BBC podcasts.

MEAA again calls on Egypt’s authorities to immediately release the three Al Jazeera English journalists and all journalists detained for their journalism. MEAA urges that journalists should be free to carry out their duties without harassment, intimidation or violence. MEAA members will continue to support the detained journalists and to campaign for their release.

Next article – Rally calls for support

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