Video Duration 25 minutes 00 seconds
From: The Listening Post

Egypt: Journalism on trial

A Listening Post special on the jailing of three Al Jazeera staff and the verdict’s impact on press freedom.

In Kafka’s novel, the story begins: “Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., because he had done nothing wrong, but one day he was arrested.”

This week, a trial took place that had something of the Kafka-esque.

In a 20-month-long ordeal, and after months of extended pre-trial imprisonment, repeated postponements, charges that lack convincing evidence and hearings fraught with complexity – three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced to three years in prison by a Cairo court.

Evidence including footage of a trotting horse from Sky News Arabia; holiday snaps; a pop music video, and like the fictive account of Josef K – a bank employee, who is unexpectedly arrested one morning for an unspecified crime, the story of the ‘Al Jazeera 3’ makes for uncomfortable reading.

One journalist, Peter Greste, remains out of jail after being deported back to Australia in February. But Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been sent back to the notorious Tora Prison, where they already spent more than 400 days. Baher Mohamed has been given six months extra for being found in possession of a spent bullet case picked up at a protest. Six other Al Jazeera journalists have been convicted in absentia. At least 18 other journalists are in jail in Egypt.

This trial is about much more than Al Jazeera. This week, we have broken format and bring you a special edition on what many consider a politicised attack on press freedom, and part of a comprehensive crackdown on all forms of Egyptian opposition.

We talk to Peter Greste from Sydney; former Al Jazeera English correspondent Sherine Tadros, and journalist Hugh Miles, both in Cairo; and Geoffrey Robertson QC, who is part of the legal team; and political scientists who have been following the story, H.A Hellyer and Mark Levine.

Journalism on Egypt and from Egypt may be in short supply – but there are some outlets that you can turn to for original reporting that pushes the limits. We give you a map of some of those outlets – as well as both government and Muslim Brotherhood outlets giving their version of events.