Amnesty demands end of trial, release of Egyptian journalists

Feb. 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM
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CAIRO, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- An Egyptian military court trying two journalists should end their trial and free them immediately, human rights group Amnesty International said.

Calling Amr Al Qazaz and Islam Farahat "prisoners of conscience," Amnesty issued a statement Tuesday saying "journalism is not a crime."

The journalists are charged with illegally obtaining and publishing classified military documents and videos. They also face charges of publishing 21 documents that include plans for the government's response to the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to defend the legitimacy of both the organization and ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

"The two journalists are prisoners of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression by performing their jobs," said Philip Luther, AI's program director for the Middle East and North Africa. "The Egyptian authorities must release them immediately and unconditionally, and drop all charges against them. Journalism is not a crime, and civilians, including journalists, should never face trial in military courts."

Al Qazaz was arrested at his home Nov. 12 by plainclothes police who confiscated his laptop, phones, cameras, papers and books. Farahat was arrested six days later on a Cairo street.

Amnesty said their imprisonment violated international and Egyptian law, noting the Egyptian constitution prohibits the imprisonment of anyone for crimes related to publishing.

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