The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday condemned the Egyptian prosecutor general’s decision to put 20 Al-Jazeera journalists on trial on criminal charges of incitement, distorting the country’s image abroad, and fabricating news to aid the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government has declared a terrorist organization, according to government daily Al-Ahram and other news reports.
“This attempt to criminalize legitimate journalistic work is what distorts Egypt’s image abroad. The government’s lack of tolerance shows that it is unable to handle criticism,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. “We call on authorities to drop these outrageous charges and release all journalists from jail immediately.”
The government said that eight of the journalists being prosecuted are already in prison. CPJ has identified only five Al-Jazeera journalists in jail. The government said the other 12 defendants are fugitives from justice. The journalists and corresponding charges were not named.