- The government of Egypt is grilled over levying trump up charges against a journalist from 'Al-Jazeera TV' after discovering that she was in possession of footage documenting torture in Egypt ready to be broadcast on a show.
On her way to 'Al-Jazeera' offices in Qatar on 8 January, Huweida Taha had the videotapes confiscated by the Egyptian security forces. Five days later, a state security prosecutor accused Ms Taha of "filming scenes which may harm the national interests of the country, and possessing and transferring false footage, which incorrectly describes the situation in Egypt."
Based on these charges, interrogations of Ms Taha were continued. This came as a surprise to 'Al-Jazeera' officials because "it reveals a sharp diversion from the original stance of the Ministry of Interior, which previously granted an official license to Taha and offered to help her in the preparation of the said TV show."
"We cannot find charges similar to those levelled against Huweida Taha in any other country that respects freedom of press and meets the minimum standards of a democracy. These accusations are artificial and aim at covering up the crimes of torture that are widespread in Egypt, which were recently disclosed by young and courageous Egyptian bloggers," Gamal Eid of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) said.
Harassment of 'Al-Jazeera' staff has become a routine exercise by the Egyptian government. These threats and restrictions are apparently applied to limit the boldness of 'Al-Jazeera' staff in keeping the public abreast of events in the Arab world.
HRinfo in a statement called upon the Egyptian Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor to immediately drop the accusations levelled against the 'Al-Jazeera' journalist and to fight torture rather than punishing those who disclose it.
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