Egyptian prosecutors refer Al Jazeera journalists to criminal court

El-Sayed Gamal El-Deen, Wednesday 29 Jan 2014

Four foreign and 16 Egyptian Aljazeera journalists face charges that include belonging to a terrorist organisation

Al Jazeera international detained journalists: From L-R - Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed

Egyptian prosecutors referred on Wednesday four foreign Al Jazeera journalists and 16 Egyptians, including Peter Greste, Mohmed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, to criminal court.

The 16 Egyptian defendants face charges including belonging to a terrorist organisation, harming national unity and social peace, and using terrorism as a means to their goals.

The four foreigners, the Australian award winning journalist Peter Greste, two Englishmen and one Dutch, face charges of collaborating with the Egyptians and providing them with information, equipment, and money as well as broadcasting false information and rumours to convince the international community that Egypt was undergoing a civil war.

Eight of the defendants are detained, while 12 are on the run with arrest warrants issued against them.

The staff members and journalists of Al Jazeera were arrested in late December following interior ministry accusations of illegally broadcasting from a hotel suite.

Al Jazeera's Cairo offices have been closed down since 3 July, after being raided by security forces in the immediate aftermath of the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.

The only Al Jazeera-affiliated channel to have been banned with a court order is Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, while all other sub-channels have been closed without an order.

Launched weeks after the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak and widely perceived as the voice of the Brotherhood, the Mubasher Misr channel operated for over two years without accreditation.

The network, now broadcasts from Qatar and can still be viewed in Egypt, was accused by authorities and local media of biased coverage in favour of the Brotherhood.

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