By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
We previously wrote HERE and HERE of the arrest, conviction, and sentencing to seven years Al Jazeera reporter Peter Greste for the dubious accusation of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood through their coverage of the “civil war” in Egypt. During sentencing, as we previously reported, the Court insisted that the reporters “took advantage of the noble profession of journalism … and turned it from a profession aimed at looking for the truth to a profession aimed at falsifying the truth.” It then added that “The devil guided them to use journalism and direct it toward activities against this nation.” That “devil” work was reporting on the crackdown on the supporters of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
The conviction of Grest and several other reporters both in person and in-absentia drew great criticism in the West and caused concern the nation was turning increasingly authoritarian in its crackdown on free speech and journalists.
Egyptian officials announced that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi ordered Greste’s release through a recently approved statutory procedure that permits the deportation of foreign suspects and criminals.
Today Greste was reportedly placed onto a Cypress bound aircraft just shortly after his release from prison. He was incarcerated for a total of 400 days.
Unfortunately there are no reports of impending releases of other journalists incarcerated under similar unjustifiable circumstances. Al Jazeera reporters Mohamed Fahmy, a dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen, and Egyptian national Baher Mohammed have remained incarcerated since December, 2013 on charges of “Aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.” Both men were sentenced to seven and ten years respectively.
While the release of Greste certainly is welcoming, it could be a sign that at least at some level the government might be pragmatic about holding these reporters under dubious charges, and could be in-fact looking for a face-saving way out of the situation. But for whatever the reason, Greste is finally coming home.
By Darren Smith
Source: Deutsche Welle
Photo Credits: Wikipedia
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