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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  December 29, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EST

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team's head coach jim harbaugh. he's landing well, taking the head coach job with mirch. that'smichigan. that's all our time. "inside story" is next on al jazeera america. ." three journalists from al jazerra have now been in prison for a year. their crime, trying to tell the story of a turbulent and fast-changing he just a minute. it's "inside story": ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ hello i am ray suarez. around the world journalists are harassed arrested, even killed. in many cases what the people
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targeting them could call a crime, is very simple, they tell the stories powerful people don't want told. three al jazerra journal i haves, were arrested tried and sen tested to long prison terms for trying to cover the banned political party that only a few months earlier in 2013, had been running egypt. today on the one-year anniversary of their arrest. we are devoting this edition of "inside story" to the continued imprisonment of the peter getter mohamed fahmy and bahar mohamed and to say once again to the audience in the united states and around the world journalist is not a crime. buzzing newsrooms came to a standstill monday marking one year since al jazerra journalists peter greste, mohamed fahmy and bahar me hommie he had were detained odd terrorism charges in egypt. al jazerra condemns the sentencing arguing it is a journalist's job to get all sides of the store and it's channel is objective when
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reporting on the political positions of its fundser qatar. >> al jazerra is a immediate institution. the -- we work in so many different places and we should be taken as a professional media institution, not as a part of any political or ideological or nigh establishment. >> the three mens' prolonged impressment. journalist is is a right. >> from prison greste pen the last week:
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>> journalist are under attack. he described it perfectly had in his paper when he said journal assists are no longer at at the front line, they are the frontline. we are just about to release the killed list for a year, and there are over 100 journalists that lost their lives doing their jobs . >> what the al jazerra journalists did, and what the egypt government calls a crime was interviewing members of the muslim brotherhood an opposition group banned in egypt shortly after general abdel abdel fattah sey's take over. sisi's crack down has been fierce. senior officials interior ministry estimated early this year more than 16,000 egyptians had been arrested for political reasons. qatar has long been a sport of the muslim brotherhood backing the outed liter mohamed morsi. now with the help of saudi arabia, qatar and egypt are negotiating a sort of truce.
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>> translator: egypt means a lot for us, a strong, capable and healthy egypt say support for arabs. >> last week al jazerra suspended its satellite broadcasts focused on egypt. that decision came after an envoy from qatar met with president sisi to free the jailed al jazerra journalists sisi could issue a presidential pardon but said he will not interfere with the judicial process. the appeals process continues thursday with a procedural hearing. slated to examine how the law was applied in this case. ♪ ♪ in troubled countries around the world journalists are shot, disappeared, beaten, exiled. al jazerra has not escaped this assault on press freed and freedom and the right to know. facing many more years in prison our colleagues are being punished for activity that conforms to every idea of what journalism is for.
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to look at the freed up. press, a changing egypt and the country's relationship internationally we welcome lena, director of the carnegie middle east center. patrick put her, vice president of proms at the international center for journalists and associate professor of law at the texas a & m school of law. lena, let me start with you. what does it tell you that these men are still in jail this long after the sisi government has taken control of the institutions of the state this long after they were sentenced? >> well, i think this case is illustrates very clearly that unfortunately in egypt the judiciary is just not independent. the sentence given does not make sense. the judiciary is politicized and president sisi claims that he abides by the ruling because he
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respects the independence of the judiciary, but unfortunately this is far from convincing as egypt is regressing back to authoritarianism. >> if the sisi government was as secure as it appears to be, why would they continue to hold onto these minte as some of the most powerful people in the world like john kerry the secretary general of the united nations are directly pressuring egypt to let them go? >> egypt is trying to show that it is a country that is independent and that can assert itself in the international community. and that it does not bow down especially to international western pressure. so this is a matter of national pride for president sisi. unfortunately, a sense of national pride that is built on paranoia against foreigners, a sense of pride built on selling a narrative to the egyptian people that egypt is the victim
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of an international conspiracy. so the longer he holds off in the face of international pressure in his view, the longer he can prove himself as an assertive leader to his people. >> patrick butler, the center was in egypt for a long time, had a presence, had programs, what did you see? watching the arc of development and change as icfj remained in egypt? >> well, we were working in egypt since 2005, and so during the mubarak years. and back then, there was certainly not a system of free press, but i would say it's much much worse now than it was evening back then. of course, my organization was one of the five that were raided in late 2011, charged with working illegally in egypt and i and 42 others were charged with accepting foreign funding and working illegally in the country. so, you know, i can relate somewhat for what's going on for the al jazerra journalists although luckily i was not in
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egypt at the time and so i am not in jail. but our -- >> would you be jailed if you went back today? >> yes, ill be. i was convicted and received a five-year sentence. so i would go to jail if i return to egypt. >> what was the state of play before the anti-mubarak up rising? were there newspapers that were written by people who didn't have people telling them what to write? could you go a radio station and say whatever popped in to your head rather than what people wanted you to say? what was the situation day-to-day for people working in the information business? >> well, it certainly was not a free press then. no. there were somewhat independent newspapers, more than there are now. but most of the media was controlled by the government. certainly most of the -- almost all of the broadcast media was controlled by the government. there were some independent newspapers, but even they were somewhat meek. but it's gotten much worse now. as i said, recently we had a situation where editors of both government-run and private newspapers said they were not challenge the government.
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they would not print anything that was critical government because they didn't want to be seen as promoting terrorism. of course this is exactly what the sisi government is saying is that any kind of criticism of the government is equate that go with terrorism. and what you saw with the al jazerra journal assists is they were simply trying to interview members of the opposition of the government that had been in power. and that is equated with promoting terrorism. what we are seeing now is media completely cowed by the government and saying they are not even going to attempt to question what the government is doing. there were some independent journalist who his spoke out against that. very brave people. but the ones with the power are saying, no, we are doing what the sisi government wants. >> professor you watch legal developments in your country very closely. help us understand why there was a trial in the first place? in the tumult of post morsi egypt, could they have simply been claped in to jail, detained out charge for a long period of
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time? why go through the process of putting on a case. not that the prosecution in fact put on much of a case, but the defense was allowed to speak in court and then see these men sentence today very long jail sentences . >> this was a very high profile case and it was about more than just what these journalists allegedly did which clearly the evidence shows they didn't do enough. but this is really about egypt sending a strong message to qatar and a strong message to the international community for anyone who challenged the july 3 *bd, 2014 coup. and it was flexing their muscle and chilling civil society actors to show them that the stakes are very, very high. i think what the military learned in its 18 months of brief power under the supreme council of armed forces, was
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that egypts had broken the wall of fear and were willing to criticize, criticize and protest. what sisi did under the guys of. [ inaudible ] think sisi was effectively running the show even before he was formally elected. he made the stakes high. i sent a chilling message that was a necessary i think that was sent earlier some people say that sisi is trying to be the next abdul nasr, if you open your health, protest break the law, even even in the most minor way i am going to torture you detain you and may have been even kill you and i will escalate this to the highest level. this is a case where the courtroom is being used as a political forum in order to crack down on anyone that opposes the regime. >> lina, did it work? you just heard what the professor said. if that was hey message and sent to egypt at large did it snuff out the candle?
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did it force people back in to their homes did it make them stop doing many of the things they were doing in the months running up to those arrests? >> unfortunately, yes, it's working as a scare tactic. i personally know a number of journal assists who are now simply too scared to voice their opinion. i know owners of publications who are too scared to to publish certain things that might be considered too transgress i have by the government. so the space for freedom of expression in egypt is really becoming very narrow and a lot of people are leaving the country, if they can. while those within the country are beginning to exercise self censorship. unfortunately, egypt today is heading towards a future that appears to be even more authoritarian than what we witnessed under the mubarak regime. we'll be back with more "inside story" after a short break. when we return, are al jazerra's
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journalists in prison for what they did, or as you heard our guests suggest, because of who they work for? it's no secret that there is bad blood it wasn't new egyptian government and the emirates of qatar. where al jazerra is headquartered. diddid peoplediplomacy by other means? stay with you us.
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>> sunday night. >> 140 world leaders will take the podium. >> get the full story. >> there is real disunity in the security council. >> about issues that impact your world. >> infectious diseases are a major threat to health. >> "the week ahead". sunday 8:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. ♪ ♪ you are watching "inside story" on al jazerra america. i am ray suarez.
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just a few days before our al jazerra team was arrest in the cairo in 2013, i talks with correspondent peter greste about the banning of the muslim brotherhood. >> remember this is not just a rhetorical shift. it carries very heavily legal consequences and we are seeing the interior ministry going on air today saying that anybody who is protesting in the streets, anyone who is advocating in favor of muslim brotherhood ideology, anyone passing out pamphlets belonging to the brotherhood will beism be imprisoned for five years, they have gone to say the mud limb brotherhood leaders anyone that finances them. anyone who even provides information to the brotherhood could spend life behind bars. >> that was peter greste on this program just three days before his arrest. the muslim brotherhood government of mohamed morsi was supported by the emirates of qatar. the qatari government similarly
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opposes the new egyptian administration ran by abdel fa identity ali see. theabdel fattah el sey. is that the real cause for the jailing of mo mohamed fahmy bahar mohamed and peter greste. professor, you touched on it briefly before the break. please expand on that idea. is this a way at slapping at qatar without directly doing anything aggressive? >> i think it's slapping at qatar, but also more directly aid at the muslim brotherhood this. over reaction shows a sense of desperation, i think their concern is if the egyptian people have access to information that shows a different perspective. even if that per perspective is allegedly biased but anything that the not pro regime, the egypt people may question his legitimacy. it's not just about qatar.
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qatar surely is a target because the al jazerra network is a very powerful one and many people watch it on the internet or through satellite television. but more directed at the muslim brotherhood. because they were the only meaningful opposition that proved that it could take over parliament and win a president she. so to the extend al jazerra gives any opposite perspective or different perspective in any other perspective, i think it will be targeted by the egyptian state. >> lina, are you working under the assumption that qatar is still supporting the muslim brotherhood inside egypt? >> yes. in fact, qatar is still supportive of the muslim brotherhood everywhere. because the relationship between qatar and the brotherhood goes a long way back. it's a decade old relationship. and egypt or any other country cannot expect qatar to suddenly every all it's a relations with the muslim brotherhood. however, this does not mean that qatar is engaged in a conspiracy
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against egypt. which is unfortunately the scenario used in this particular context. the egyptian government has recently, for instance, through the trial of mo bar he can released a court document in which it says that egypt is the victim of an international conspiracy led by qatar the united states, iran, and israel all at once. so there is really an exaggeration and fabrication taking place that is being presented by the egyptian government as a reason behind the crack done on the muslim brotherhood and qatar is at the heart that have. >> well, does egypt have a point then? if this is a band party if they would love to see see an overthrow of the currents regime and a foreign state is supporting them, i mean, is egypt acting
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the way countries under threat, governments under threat would act the worldwide over? >> certainly not. because as i said, even though qatar is supportive of the muslim brotherhood. this does not mean that there is a conspiracy taking place. egypt is simply using this relationship as an excuse because the current regime is actually quite vulnerable. and the easiest thing in the world to get the people to rally around you is to scare them in to submission and this is what egyptian government has been doing. it has nothing to do with reality at all. as i said, the scenario presented by the egyptian government is a really fanciful one, you know, to put israel and iran in one alliance against egypt goes against -- against all sense of logic really. >> the service, patrick butler, that al jazerra media networks was beaming specifically in to
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egypt has been an irritant, a thorn in the side of the cairo government. it was recently pulled down. you, your organization, advocate for president freedom. were you a little bummed when you saw that? were you -- was that a development that you thought oh no, i am sorry they gave in? >> i was yes. and of course i want to seat journalists freed and this could be a precurse forgetting them out of jail. but it is disappointing that one of the few sources of independent news in egypt is now shutdown. but not surprising in a sense. you know, given that what is happening now in trying to reenergize relations between qatar and egypt. >> does this represent kind of a new front in a worldwide battle for president freeze up? i mean, al jazerra and this happened a long time before i worked at this place or before this place even existed so i am not -- >> right. >> apple polishes for the bosses or anything. but it really set off shock
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waves across the arabic speaking world when it burst onto the scene and started tumbling out of satellites in to people's homes. but now, you know, countries are taking countermeasures. >> countries have learned how to, you know, it's not just al jazerra, al jazerra was the first, without question. it was the thing that really changed the game in the middle east against repressive governments. the first really source of news that wasn't controlled by the governments themselves. since then we have seen social media, bloggers, all kind of new things that have provided other avenues of information and governments are finding ways to circumvent all of those things. so for a while there were sources of independent news, but we are seeing, i think not just in egypt, but in many other countries as well, you know, fewer and fewer of those sources or new ways that governments are finding of cracking down on them. egypt, by the way is now in the top five countries in the world for jailing journalists. that's a new development. so, you know,ing and second in the world according to statistics from reporters
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without borders in the arrests of journalists this year, i think we are seeing a reallies ca layings in egypt against journalism and against civil society as well. we'll be back with more "inside story" after another quick break. when we return, i want to hear from my guests about egypt today. have the regional neighbors begun to accept the new government as an established fact? are they doing what they can to make life difficult for the new new egyptian government? has egypt simply ended up right back where it started with a young military strong man at the held. after the aging has hosni mubarak was toppled? stay with us.
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welcome back to "inside story" on al jazerra america. i am ray suarez. a little more than a year after banning the muslim brotherhood has the government of mohamed -- abdel fattah el-sisi made itself an established fact in the middle east? with pressure not only on
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reporters and a free press but on civil society. have the hopes of the thousands in the square simply been dashed? still with us lina, author of politics in the middle east, the role of the visual in political struggle. patrick butler, vice president of programs at the international center for journalists. and a law professor and author of theater or transitional justice reforming the judiciary in egypt. lina for those governments in the neighborhood who opposed the new egyptian government, are they setting in for a long spell, like the last one of military rule in a business suit? >> unfortunately egypt is going to see this regime in place for a while. however, this is not going to be indefinite, because president sisi's policies are planting the seed for long-term instability in egypt. and here we can look down at
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crack down on his freedom of expression and what this leads to in the future, potential unrest, we are looking at economic policies, that are actually hindering economic growth. this will eventually also lead to unrest. and we are looking for a crack down on the muslim brotherhood that is so severe it's driving a lot of people even nonmuslim brotherhood members underground and increasing radicalization in egypt. so actually, president sisi's policies will backfire in the future and this will under mine regime stability. >> professor, were the people that came out in to the square now finding that they are ending up behind where they were before the up rising against hosni mubarak? >> i think there is certainly a feeling of one step forward, two steps back. but i agree that this is not the end. and unfortunately for egypt there may be another real revolution coming. what happened on january 25th was an up rising.
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it did not make my ref lines air i change in egypt. it actually created regression. but i predict if the economy doesn't improve and there isn't wealth distribution, there may be a hunger revolution. and you will have a convergence of interest between political actor that his have become radicalize in terms of their stance vis-a-vis the regime, whether or not they adapt violence is an open question, and also between millions, 10s of millions of hungry egyptians. but the government will try to use terrorism as a way to scare the average egyptian in to accepting their suffering. and i am not sure how long that will last. it was the same tactic that mubarak used. but i think it's also the tactic he's using with the united states and with western powers to get to look the other way when he engages in these a samardzija veer human rights violations. >> patrick butler, is it fair to say that this part of the world is not looking very promising for independent un-bossedded
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around journalism? >> it is fair to say that indeed not just in the realm of freedom of expression, in many ways tunisia is the shining example in the region, it's not perfect but better than all of the other countries that have gone through -- went through the arab spring and saw change only to zero against again or chaos. but we are not -- i don't think on the whole we are seeing a whole lot of progress. even in countries that are in terms of media proceed up, freedom of the press, in countries that are seen as perhaps some of the best in the region like jordan and morocco we are still seeing problems in those countries as well. so i would say there are very few countries in the region where we are seeing a movement towards openness, freedom of expression. >> how does that ever turn around? >> well, like your other guests i am hopeful that things can change in the future. you know, i am not the expert that they are on the policies of the sisi government and where they are going to lead, but i think the economy is the lynch
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pin of the whole thing. and unless average egyptians -- average egyptians may now be supportive of sisi in way that his might surprise some of us in the west. but that may change soon if the economy doesn't improve. >> patrick butter, professor lean, a thank you for joining me on "inside story." that brings us to the end of this edition. program. thanks for being with us, remember my colleagues who are till still in prison? egypt. bahar mohamed, peter get earth mohamed fahmy. in washington i am ray suarez. coming up at 6:00 p.m. a plane that disappeared is likely at the bottom of the sea says the man in charge of finding the 162 people aboard. we'll have the latest on the search. u.s. officials say illegal
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border crossings have almost stopped. humanitarian workers have a different story to tell and we are keeping our spotlight on our three colleagues impressed in egypt for one year today. that and more coming up at 6:00. >> we're in the mexican state of veracruz, one of the most violent areas in the country. this is el diamante ranch - it is here where the remains of 31 people were found a month ago. the bodies were dumped in a mass grave just below this house. those who were killed are believed to have been held here after they were kidnapped. only a few of the bodies have been identified. kidnappings have increased

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