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    Wednesday, 23 May 2018

    Journalists jailed for ten year in Egypt, Sinai researcher Alexandrani sentenced to 10 years

    An Egyptian military court has sentenced Ismail Alexandrani, a prominent journalist and expert on jihadist movements in the Sinai peninsula, to 10 years in prison, his lawyer and a military judicial official said.
    Alexandrani, who was arrested in November 2015, was accused of publishing military secrets and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, his lawyer Tarek Abdel Aal told AFP Tuesday.
    He was also accused of spreading information that could harm national security outside the country in interviews with the media and in articles, his lawyer added. Abdel Aal said they will appeal the verdict.
    Jailed Egyptian journalist to be awarded UNESCO press freedom prize
    Alexandrani had been in pretrial detention for two and a half years since his arrest in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada after he returned from a work trip in Berlin.
    An expert on militant movements in North Sinai, where security forces are fighting an insurgency led by the Islamic State group, Alexandrani had been to Germany to deliver lectures on the political situation in Egypt, his wife Khadija Gaafar had said at the time.
    Alexandrani was also known for his anti-regime writings and for criticising the military’s role in politics, and was a contributor to publications including the French online magazine Orient XXI, which confirmed his sentencing on Twitter.
    Co-defendant Walid Mohareb was also sentenced to 10 years in prison in the same trial, which included 18 others who were being tried in absentia, Abdel Aal said.Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid won the 2018 Press Freedom Prize awarded by the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO on Monday, a choice that drew criticism from the Egyptian authorities.
    The government arrested Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, in 2013 as he photographed security forces dispersing an anti-government sit-in, during which hundreds of protesters and several security forces members were killed.
    The verdict “exemplifies the government’s vicious retaliation against journalists who report on sensitive issues,” Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said in an emailed statement.
    “It’s also a reminder that the government seeks to keep army abuses of Sinai residents away from media scrutiny,” she said.
    Human rights groups accuse President Abdel Fattah alSisi of installing a repressive regime that had led a crackdown against militants, which later expanded and targeted wider dissent.
    Sisi was elected a year after he led the July 2013 military overthrew of his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, amid mass protests against him.
    An Egyptian court put former extremist presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh on a terrorism list on Tuesday, state news agency MENA reported, following his arrest for alleged contacts with the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
    Abol Fotouh was arrested last week a day after returning from London, where he had given interviews sharply critical of President Abdel Fattah al Sisi ahead of next month’s presidential election.
    The Interior Ministry said at the time that Abol Fotouh held secret meetings with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood while in London to implement a plot to stir unrest and instability in the country, accusations he denied.
    Sisi is almost guaranteed to win a second term in a presidential election slated for March 26-28, but the vote has been criticized by rights groups after a number of potential competitors called off their campaigns, citing intimidation, and a top challenger was arrested.
    Abol Fotouh was among the first of several high profile Egyptians to call last month for a boycott of the election.
    Individuals added to the terrorism list are generally subjected to an asset freeze and a travel ban and are permitted 60 days to appeal the decision. Abol Fotouh’s lawyer, Abdelrahman Haridy, told he had not yet been notified of the court’s decision and that it was not yet clear if it included an asset freeze. He said the designation could “easily” be appealed in court.
    “It’s clear that there is an insistence on tacking charges on to political figures in order to intimidate all politicians, even for just saying their opinions,” Haridy said.
    Abol Fotouh along with 15 others were added to the list after an investigation by the state security prosecution found they had joined an outlawed organization “aiming to harm the interests of the state,” MENA said, without naming the organization.
    In an interview with Al Jazeera Mubasher, a Qatar based channel banned in Egypt, Abol Fotouh last week criticized Sisi in unusually pointed terms, accusing him of pulling the army into politics, failing to curb deadly attacks by extremist militants and mismanaging the economy.
    The 67-year-old physician quit the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011 to mount an independent bid for the presidency in 2012, and has distanced himself from the group since then.
    Egypt banned the Brotherhood in 2013 after extremist President Mohamed Mursi was ousted by the military following mass protests.
    The group has since been declared a terrorist organization by the government but it maintains that its activities are peaceful.
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    Item Reviewed: Journalists jailed for ten year in Egypt, Sinai researcher Alexandrani sentenced to 10 years Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Asqamar