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Egypt's Trials of Journalists Criminalize Free Speech, Free Press
With the opening of the trial in Egypt of three Al-Jazeera journalists, Freedom House condemns the Egyptian government's use of politically tainted legal procedures to criminalize the free exercise of journalistic rights and freedoms in the country.
Authorities jailed the journalists-- Peter Greste, Mohammad Fahmy and Baher Mohammad -- December 29, 2013, charging them with "spreading false news" and allegedly having links to "terrorist organizations." The charges are the result of their coverage of government actions against the Muslim Brotherhood.
The three are among at least 20 journalists, most of them Egyptians, who have been charged with belonging to or assisting a terrorist organization, since the government declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist group, on December 25, 2013.
The government's judicial actions are part of a broader effort to silence internal and external criticism, in its effort to cement control over the country and crush political opposition, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood. These actions amount to profound human rights abuses, in particular by attempting to destroy the rights of free association and expression.
Freedom House calls for the immediate release of all the journalists involved and the voiding of all charges. Freedom House also calls on the international community, in particular the United States, to press the Egyptian government to guarantee the right of journalists to freely report on developments in Egypt.
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