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tv   The Stream  Al Jazeera  December 31, 2014 12:30pm-1:01pm EST

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and you can of course keep up to date with everything we're covering on our website, the address for that is you will find the latest on all of our top stories, including analysis on everything we're covering. video on demand there as well. do check it out. ♪ hi i'm lisa fletcher and you are in the "stream." journalists around the world condemn the egyptian government for the detention of three al jazeera journalists. plus females talk about being harassed assaulted and stripped on the streets of egypt. and later an american citizen imprisoned during anti-government demonstrations who was said to be near death sparks an online movement
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calling on the u.s. to do more to secure his release. ♪ my digital producer and co-host wajahat ali is here bringing in all of your feedback throughout the program. we decided to launch this hashtag this year as a network. and it was a way to bring the point home and make it personal about the things we missed had we been away for a year. >> yeah our three colleagues have been in prison for a year. and we often don't think what would we miss if we were falsely imprisoned for a year. check out my screen: look at that beautiful photo. and then we have a young journalist says:
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and one of our colleagues peter greste wrote this recently from prison. he say: amen to that lisa. >> yeah that was published globally in the biggest newspapers ash the world. three al jazeera journalists as we mentioned remain behind bars sparking international condemnation over their treatment. this week marks the one-year anniversary of their detention. they were detained by egyptian authorities in december of 2013, while reporting on the military-lead coup that toppled the government of president morsi. they are accused of aiding the muslim brotherhood and reporting false news charges they and al jazeera deny. the brotherhood was designated a terrorist organization by the interim egyptian government shortly before the journalists were arrested. the prosecution's case was
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called into question when the evidence they produced was: in june greste and baher mohamed -- mohammed fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison, and baher mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for having a spent bull it will casing in his procession. human rights and press freedom advocates say the move is mart of a wider crackdown on free speech. and part of a major effort by the egyptian authorities to silence decent. this year egypt has been named among the worst for its crack down on professionals. joining us from doha is a correspondent who was held without charge in an egyptian
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prison for ten months. he was released in june of 2014. also with us a non-resident fellow for the brookings institution center for middle east policy and an associate fellow at the royal united states institute in london. thank you two for being here. abdullah abdullah, you spent more than 10 months in an egyptian prison. here in america we expect detainees to have basic human rights. describe for us the circumstances you experienced in the egyptian prison. >> i think egyptian prisons are an experience that no one would like to go through, because basically it's a nightmare for anyone who has gone through that kind of experience. in egyptian jails it's mostly beatings all the time never any kind of medical attention, of
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course, cells are overcrowded with people they don't get any kind of hygiene, or even any basic humans rights as -- you know allowing people to have some time to walk on their feet or probably meet each other or in some cases it's not even allowed to have a newspaper or a book or even a pen. so it's mostly a very bad experience for anyone who goes through that and it's -- it's -- it's mostly -- you know it works according to how the offices in any prison would like to control it, because there isn't something like that law that really defines how they can treat prisoners, because one day you can see, you know, the officer or the warden in control. maybe he is just feeling good or -- you know he feels -- you know it's a good day, so well let's give them some good time
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and then the other day he has trouble back in his own home and i mean it literally if he's feeling bad for any kind of reason, he just reflects that upon the prisoners. so any kind of -- you know -- yes? >> i just want to stop you there for a second. you went on a hunger strike in prison for 149 days. what prompted you to do that? >> well because i don't believe there's a judicial system in egypt. i don't believe there's justice? the first place in egypt. i mean i was there for almost five months before i started my hunger strike. i gave all sort of evidence i could give you know, to prove that i was there doing my job, and it was not just me there was another journalists who has been in jail for over 500 days now, and he was also with me in jail. he -- he is also -- you know has been there without any kind of interrogation or
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investigation, so that's why it really prompted me to go on this hunger strike because i felt that was the only way i could get back my freedom, because any kind of you know, persecution or any kind of trial was useless. we -- we just kept getting 45 days detention renewal every month and a half and nothing would half. no one would listen to you. the judge wouldn't listen to you. lawyers wouldn't -- they were doing all the best they could, but it was not really a process of justice taking place. so i felt that was the only way i could speak out. >> our come community has been tweeting in about the political climate: you are an expert on egyptian
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politics, how much of this what has been happening, especially the crackdown on journalists and the crackdown on our colleagues who have been in prison for a year is a connection between sisi, and the supporters of the muslim brotherhood? >> i think that's a large factor that one has to take into account just in terms of understanding the context in which all of this takes place. there are many journalists who are in egypt who have been taken from their offices in the same way. there are many journalists that operate in egypt that have not had that sort of treatment, and that has less to do with the work they have actually been doing, because as you pointed out about the trial, there wasn't really much that was brought up in the trial with regards to peter greste and mohammed fahmy and baher mohamed, that actually made a lot of sense, but it was very much about the association with
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al jazeera, and very much about the association with al jazeera owned by qatar, a country that was claimed to have supported the muslim brotherhood and that provides for political context that puts the light on al jazeera in particular. in the months and -- actually even the weeks after the muslim brotherhood was pushed out of power last summer in 2013 you saw a lot of press being put out there about how al jazeera was essentially the spokesperson media channel for the muslim brotherhood. and in the context of egyptian politics with this you know, new war on terror and people talking about how the -- the country is going through all of this turmoil, al jazeera in particular as a channel is put into that frame. and that provides a huge amount of the backdrop for how you can
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see people like peter greste who has been in cairo for two weeks. and mohammed fahmy, who had no connection to the muslim brotherhood whatsoever -- >> if what he is saying is true and this is political retaliation on the part of egypt towards qatar, then it really has nothing to do with the work of journalists, making journalists even more vulnerable than they may have been in the past. what is your hope that things are going to get better for journalists in conflict zones such as those in egypt? >> i don't think it is going to get any better in egypt either for the general situation in the country, or for journalists because as long as -- you know security -- as long as the security [ inaudible ] in the country is having all those kind of, you know endless powers for them to arrest and detain people without any charge i mean that will continue because i remember just like -- in my own case i was detained, you know
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and kept there just for no reason because -- you know, well the officer who detained me just thought i should be put in jail just like he was saying most of those journalists -- either al jazeera or others some of them get picked up from their homes, some of them being picked up from their offices, from on the street. so it has really nothing to do with journalists in particular but i think it's also about, you know trying to silence those who don't, you know, walk in favor of the regime in the country. >> right. ahate to cut you off but we are out of time. thanks to both of our guests. this image of a woman in cairo, dragged by police, and stripped down to her bra, has become an enduring symbol of sexual assaults of women
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reported in post revolution egypt. why so many accounts of rape have yielded so few prosecutions. and later why are some accusing the u.s. government of doing too little to secure the release of an american held in egypt. his brother joins us to talk about that. and on the one year anniversary in prison our colleagues reflect on what they have missed. we would love it if you used the same hashtag. ♪
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welcome back. we're talking about press freedom in egypt, as we mark a year since three al jazeera journ aileses were detained and are still held in prison by authorities. those were some examples of support they have gotten. women in particular have woman forward with stories of harassment assault, and even gang rape in downtown cairo. one journalist says she was sexually assaulted while being detained in prison. egypt's government faces criticism to failing to
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prosecute these cases. here to discuss this out of paris is an egypt correspondent for france 24. she is also director of the film sexual harassment, an egyptian disease, and she herself was assaulted in 2012. also an egyptian journalist who is the subject of the documentary where she navigates the revolution in 2012. sonia who has got your back in egypt? >> it is very difficult because of harassment. and especially when there was the protests in 2000 and even 2012 because now you have almost no protection. it's forbidden to protest, and if you protest you risk to go to jail, so you really have to be careful, but i think we're all aware of harassment so especially like me since i had a
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bad experience end of 2012 i was much more cautious since when i go in the street when i go -- you know on the ground -- >> sonia what happened to you in the square? >> so it was at the end of a protest at the end of october in 2012, i was covering from the ground usually i work from balcony in the hotel which was on the square. this time we were on the ground. it was the end of the protest. it was a very quiet day. and at the end of the -- the protest, there was still some guys hang around. when i begin my -- my live there was not so much people but very quickly like it's all of this things usually happen very quickly, like in a few minutes you have suddenly like a few men like surrounded me and
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at the end of my live i tried to -- to leave, but very quickly a circle was formed around me and -- and i was grabbed, but thanks to my coworker that was here, i managed to escape thanks to another journalist. >> i'm going to stop you right there for a minute. because i want to get hiba into the conversation. it is suspected that these attacks are carried out by men hired by the government paid to attack female journalists and protesters. is there anything you have learned that would lend truth to those accusations? >> i can't say for sure because we don't have evidence of either but i can say at some point in some specific incidents, for example like mohammed in 2011 it seemed to be very organized. it seemed to happen all of a sudden, and people were coming out of nowhere in very large
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groups, and were organized. and we have seen very similar tactics used but i wouldn't confirm or deny this. but whether or not what is happening on the ground is orchestrated by the state or just happening, what we know for sure is the state is failing to prevent this and the state is using sexual violence itself with political dissidence. >> we asked your community, what can be done to ensure the safety of female journalists reporting in areas of unrest: however, we have heard today there is a double standard -- >> [ inaudible ]. >> yep. sonia you have are the writer and director of the documentary,
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what is the vaccine and what is the cure? >> first i think the egyptian society needed to really be fully aware of the phenomenon because it was a huge taboo in the society. no one really talked about it. the egyptian media never really talk about the subject until some women since the revolution in 2011 became to -- to talk about it openly one of the women i interviewed was raped entirely for 45 minutes. it was a horrible assault. she went on egyptian tv end of 2012, and she talk about it openly showing on tv her shirt that was -- you know there was blood on her shirt and her pants that were turned down and she show all of that and it's because some brave egyptian woman began to talk openly on
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social media and tv that finally the problem is less taboo, and we had the egyptian authority pass the law december punishing five or six year harassment. and finally there is a law that designs sexual harassment. but still you need a national strategy, and even if there is this law now, it has to be implied, you know, by the police and the judiciary system because often some woman say that they file a complaint and the policemen, you know, almost -- like some of them even harass the woman. it's such a big issue in this society that you need a really national strategy. >> right. >> and you need to make effort about that. >> hibba, female activists and reporters are having to choose between what they consider their professional and moral duty and being a target for rape.
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how do you think that is changing the dynamics particularly for female journalists on the ground. >> i think it's a shame while i'm doing my job and others are doing their job as journalists, they have to think about this as one additional layer of risk that you are taking. so other than thinking about the usual danger that everyone on the street is facing you also have to think about your own personal safety and your basic need to protect your body. so for me there was a point where i decided it's too dangerous to go into large crowds, and that was when the square was really bad and i almost was not able to get out. so at this point to decide okay we're going to be reporting on the peripheries and not inside of the action and it's a shame. >> it is a heavy burden to bare. thank you both so much for joining us. still ahead --
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>> i ask my government the government of the united states of america is my life not worth anything to you? >> the family of an american citizen on a hunger strike in an egyptian prison says he is near death. how the u.s. is responding next. ♪
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♪ >> i have had my freedoms stripped away from me. why? because i was living by the same values o principles that our founding fathers built this great message on. >> that message was smuggled out of an egyptian prison this year. he has been imprisoned for more than a year. he is accused of aiming to spread violence and disseminating false news. he denies the charges and has staged a hunger strike to protest his detention. he is only drinking water with sugar. as a result his family has said he has had several strokes and
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fallen into two comas. supporters have been demanding his release for a hashtag. human rights groups say his active twitter feed landed him in hot water, and he is not alone. sneerly half of all i prisoned journalists work in online media. joining us is his brother, who has been working to secure his release. and washington director for reporters without borders. give us the latest on your brother's health. he has been on this hunger strike for 334 days. that's the longest in egyptian reported history. >> first of all i would like to say that mohammed was not initially arrested for his activism on twitter. he was picked up at our house as
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the forces were raiding the house looking for my father, and they found mohammed and arrested him. and only three days after his arrest they issued a warrant. as for his health he is completely cut off, we haven't had any news from him in the past two to three weeks. he has been in solitary and icu in the prison in cairo. before that he was moved over to the icu, because there was fear that he was going into another coma, as he had multiple seizures within the prison. so right now he could fall into another coma. he could have another stroke but for that we don't know because he has been cut off from the entire world for over two or three weeks. >> what has the u.s. government done to get your brother released from your perspective,
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has it been enough? >> in the beginning the u.s. government was not doing enough but right now, obama called for his release, john kerry called for his release, and amnesty continues to go to his hearings submit requests for his release on health grounds. i believe that they are doing as much as they -- they could do but i still believe they should be doing more. they should be applying more pressure -- egypt has a lot of interests coinciding with the united states, so that should be used. the united states should be able to use that to protect its own citizens. but for now it's only been requests. >> i'm going to get our community in:
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del delfine what do you think the u.s. should be doing? >> they should be doing much more until all activists and journalists are freed. and the u.s. announced they will provide millions of dollars in military aide to egypt. democratic requirements are needed, but we have to make sure that the release of american political prisoner will be guaranteed to obtain these millions of dollars of aid. >> obviously we could have used a whole hour just for this segment. thank you so much for all of our guests. and until next time waj and i will see you online. ♪
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>> welcome to this news hour. our top stories. mahmood abbas signs a treaty to join the international criminal court. 30 people are killed in a suicide attack. almost 1 husband migrants abandoned by smugglers on a congo ship are rescued by the italian coast guard. and more than a million people gather to watch sydney's fireworks.