BBC journalists express their solidarity with colleagues at Al Jazeera Today we received the shocking report that the Egyptian government has jailed three Al Jazeera staff for between seven to ten years. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed a …

BBC journalists express their solidarity with colleagues at Al Jazeera

BBC journalists express their solidarity with colleagues at Al Jazeera

Today we received the shocking report that the Egyptian government has jailed three Al Jazeera staff for between seven to ten years. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed are charged with falsifying news to aid terrorists, in what is widely perceived to be a show trial to intimidate opponents of the military dictatorship.

Egypt has experienced several turbulent years after a revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won a democratic election. However he quickly implemented repressive and anti-democratic measures designed to ensure Brotherhood control of the country. He was overthrown in a military coup. Today the country is ruled by the military, who are the remnants of the Mubarak-era deep state.

The military dictatorship has ruthlessly suppressed Brotherhood supporters and democracy activists. There are tens of thousands of political prisoners, and a report was released this week of 400 people tortured in a secret military prison. Last week, 183 Brotherhood supporters were sentenced to death, in the mass sentencing that has come to charecterise the Egyptian legal system. It is clear that the true “crime” of these brave journalists was in reporting the truth about this regime.

What is particularly shocking is that this military dictatorship is being propped up by the West: US secretary of state John Kerry visited Egypt this weekend, and pledge to unlock $538 million in military aid. So the weapons being used to oppress protesters are paid for by US tax payers.

It is a long and hard struggle for Egyptian democracy activists like Alaa Abd El Fatteh, who has been jailed or investigated five times under each Egyptian regime.

Journalism is in crisis across the world. Silenced by repressive regimes, hobbled by right wing governments in nominal democracies, and subject to more and more commercial pressure and corporate influence.

Democracy needs journalism to hold power to account. We need to support these journalists, demand they are released, and support the freedom of the press from Government interference across the world.

We also need to work to build media channels that are free of corporate control.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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