Egyptian Judge Wishes Three Reporters A Happy World Press Freedom Day Then Denies Them Bail

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Flag of EgyptThree al-Jazeera reporters were in court for a hearing in Cairo, Egypt where a judge wished them a Happy World Press Freedom Day before denying them bail and remanding them for further proceedings beginning May 15th.

The defendants, al-Jazeera English’s Cairo Bureau Chief Mohamed Fahmy, Reporter Peter Greste, and Producer Baher Mohamed have been incarcerated since December and are accused of creating false news, slandering Egypt’s reputation, and aiding terrorists. Prosecutors have been attempting to show that al-Jazeera is aiding the banned organization the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered an enemy of the state.

Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian former CNN journalist, told the judge that it was normal for journalists to have contacts on all sides of the political spectrum – including both supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, their liberal opponents, as well as members of Egypt’s military establishment.

“I have great relations with state security, with the army and the intelligence,” said Fahmy. “That’s normal, that’s journalism, that’s my job.”

After being told of World Press Freedom Day, and about Fahmy’s recent award for his contributions to press freedom, the judge wished him and his co-defendants a “happy World Press Freedom Day”.

During a recess, Peter Greste shouted to reporters from the defendants’ cage: “We recognise the significance of the coincidence of this trial falling on World Press Freedom Day.”

Greste added: “You can’t have a free society without a free press. In Egypt today you know that you can’t provide balance as long as you can end up in prison like us.”

Egypt Coat of ArmsAnother al-Jazeera reporter, Abdallah Elshamy who has been incarcerated on an unrelated case since August, remains uncharged. He appeared in court along with dozens of demonstrators arrested during a crackdown on supporters of ousted former president Mohamed Morsi. He appeared severely weakened due to a 103 day hunger strike. He shouted to reporters that he lost 35 kilograms while imprisoned and has been refused medical assistance or acknowledgement his protest. He said he is held in a three by four meter cell with fifteen other men and is only provided access to water for twelve hours per day. He shouted to reporters “Prison is like living in a pit-hole!” Journalists were then removed from the courtroom.

One day it is hoped World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated world wide and not just ignored or even spited. It seems we have a long way to go.

By Darren Smith


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14 thoughts on “Egyptian Judge Wishes Three Reporters A Happy World Press Freedom Day Then Denies Them Bail”

  1. Banning the Moslem Brotherhood (the winners of the only relatively free election in Egypt in recent memory) only makes them martyrs. Would they rather be fighting a group like the truly radical and evil Taliban? As for Al Jazeera, I trust it better than the BBC most of the time; certainly better than any American news network. Surrendering back to a military regime to get rid of the MB looked foolish and dangerous to me when many Egyptians agreed to it. Now they can probably see their huge mistake.

  2. Yeah, this new Egypt seems SOOOOO much more free than the one that Morsi was running, doesn’t it?

    Egyptians got screwed.

  3. Stay away from Egypt as well as the 187 other places you have asked reminders to avoid.

  4. The has supported Egyptian gummit ever since they got their first whiff of Koch ass perfume (death juice). Our gummit still gives them money while they take food stamp food from hungry Americans.

    Got Boehner.

  5. Are we talking about the same Egypt that didn’t undergo a coup recently? Are we talking about a nation that just ousted its elected President and threw him in jail, then rounded up his party members. Democracy is great as long as the military gets what it wants? The population is pacified now because they are all threatened with imprisonment or death, even if duly elected? What does the word Egypt mean anymore? Is Egyptian democracy the new model for the world? Shouldn’t we be “outraged” whenever the word Egypt is uttered?

  6. They tested the judicial system that had just condemned hundreds to death.

    Should have listened to Snowden.

  7. The bigger question is Did they do what they are charged with? They would not be the first reporters to get in bed both literally and figuratively with their subjects. We see it in this country all the time. Wasn’t it Geraldo Rivera (formerly Jerry Green) who famously gave away the attack plan the the unit he was embedded with on international tv?

  8. Gee, thanks judge!

    Will Obama continue sending millions to these guys or is he going to evolve in to a Oresident who dies not give money to people who persecute journalists. Oh, wait never mind!

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