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tv   France 24 AM News  LINKTV  June 3, 2022 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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>> these are the headlines on al jazeera at this hour, russia's accuse the united states of adding fuel to the fire, by supplying advanced precision guided rockets to ukraine. the kremlin says it does not trust assurances from washington, that the rockets will not be fired into russia. the 18-year-old suspect in the supermarket shooting in buffalo, new york is facing 25 counts of murder and domestic terrorism. he is accused of opening fire, killing 10 african-americans.
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the white house has revoked a series of restrictions on flights to cuba. the measures were imposed by the trump administration to -- the biting administration has also open the door for cubans to join family members in the u.s.. i will be back with more news right after inside story. [speaking foreign language]
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♪ >> can egypt leaders be
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pressured into protecting us freedom? al jazeera condemns the 15 year jail sentence given to one of its journalists for interviewing and opposition leader. so why is egypt silencing critical voices, this is inside story. hello and welcome to the program. al jazeera's condemning the 15 year jail sentence given in egypt to one of the networks journalists. in his absence for what prosecutors call spreading false a nudist -- news. he is a presenter for the news channel and the ruling will not deter him from doing his job. he was charged for interviewing egyptian opposition leader and former presidential candidate four years ago. al jazeera says the verdict was
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irrational, unjustified and part of egypt's continued campaign against the network and its journalists. the networks demanding the release of for other al jazeera journalists detained in egypt without charge. thank you so much for joining us today on inside story we appreciate it. let me ask you first, what does this verdict and centex mean for you as a journalist, what does that mean -- as a journalist and what does it mean for the state? >> at the beginning i would like to thank you for having me. this means a lot at all levels. as mentioned, i am in total shock. i found myself sentenced to 15 years in prison, simply for doing my job, as a tv presenter. what i did was have an interview with the public figure in egypt with one of their leaders of the official political party and one of the presidential candidates.
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it was also, accused in this false trial and was sentenced. i interviewed him in 2018 to update the viewers on the latest development out of the political situation. i found myself, the subject of a trial, sentenced to 15 years without any notification or even having the chance to get represented by a lawyer. above all, there is no legal procedures or measures, the standard rules are violated. it is a totally kangaroo trial. this morning as adopted by the political regime in egypt. it is one of the political tools against freedom and the freedom
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of the press. it is a shameful ruling. to me i believe this ruling is not direct, it is directed at al jazeera as a media network. at the values and principles al jazeera represents, at the freedom of rest -- press. al jazeera is a beacon for knowledge and freedom. that is why i repeat this ruling is shameful. when the history of this -- the press in this region is written, a total chapter will be dedicated to me. journalists like me, being tried under false trial and sentenced to jail, simply for doing his job. it is a shame. >> you talked about this verdict and sentence being used as a political tool. do you, or does the network have
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any legal recourse to try to either appeal or overturn it? >> unfortunately, i contacted a number of lawyers. they said this court ruling was handed down by an exceptional court talent. there is no rule for us to try the judgment. it is totally a political trial. i believe the normal standard proceedings of taking recourse are absent in this trial. yesterday, i was speaking to my fellow colleagues and i told them, it is the crystal clear situation of murdering logic. again, this is a shameful ruling. it is clear representation of the ongoing campaign, against al
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jazeera and its journalists. we have four of our fellow colleagues, who have been detained for more than three years. they have been detained without any charge present -- pressed against them and without committing any crime. they were detained simply because they are part of al jazeera. >> i also wanted to ask about that. the fact that we have a four of our colleagues that are still in detention being held without charge. what you think that this verdict and sentence means when it comes to their cases? >> we had thought that the way out, as the regime in egypt spoke about possible release of them. we had hoped our four
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colleagues would be included. however, after this unjust ruling, handed down against me. our hope has receded. now, we are certain that all that has been propagated by the egyptian regime over the past period of time is false. i believe that the regime, egypt is responsible for the unjust attention of our four colleagues. i repeat, those colleagues did not violate any rules. they did not commit any crime. egypt is a secondary to all international conventions regarding the freedom of press. that is why i call on the egyptian authorities to release our colleagues immediately, without delay. the shameful ruling handed down again, not only against me but the freedom of press in general should he scrapped. >> thank you so much for taking
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the time to speak to us about what has happened to you, and what is happening to our four colleagues who are being held without charge and the two other journalists in egypt. >> thank you. >> egypt's president launched a national strategy for human rights last september. the rights groups dismissed it as an attempt to show reforms to the international community. other journalists have been targeted and detained in egypt. he was released last year after a four year prison sentenced. he was arrested in 2016 while visiting relatives in cairo but was never formally charged for a crime or put on trial. and al jazeera journalist in 2013, were jailed for what egypt called spreading false news, they were released after a year but seven colleagues were sentenced to 10 years. in his press freedom index, reporters without borders ranks egypt at 168 out of 180 countries and says at least 21
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journalists remain in is and in egypt -- in egypt. let's bring in our guests. in washington dc, middle east and north africa program at the committee to protect journalists. in the u.s. city of minneapolis, chair of the journalists program at the doha institute. and in brussels, researcher at amnesty international. a warm welcome to you all and thanks for joining us. let me start with you. how many journalists are jailed and detained in egypt? what kind of message does this 15 your sentence send to journalist -- your sentence center journalists? >> thank you for having me. our most recent account is 20 journalists, one of them was released but we're still waiting today to see him released. we bring the countdown from 25
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in december, which is a good sign. it means at least that the oppression machine is slowing down. we are seeing more releases than average since last year. but it does not mean that the oppression machine was dismantled or that there will be any executive action to limit the egyptian governments ability to imprison journalists in the short-term. we think that our improvement in terms of the numbers, but egypt is still the third today, that has been the case for at least eight years. so, we need to see a lot more, if we think that the verdict we saw today is is something as of an exception. it is the norm still in egypt,
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where we see the worst condition for press freedom in egypt's modern history. >> egypt's president launched a national strategy for human rights, this was done last september. rights groups have basically dismissed this as an attempt, a deceptive one, to show reforms are happening to the international community. the fact that he was sentenced months after this national strategy for human rights was announced, what does that mean? >> from our point of view, we are seeing authorities continue to put critics at risk, including journalists. the journalists were arrested. it is a clear example that the nation has no intention of easing pressure. they're shifting two different strategies, where we are seeing
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the regime avoiding high-profile arrests and instead focusing more on people the government can label as in some way connected to the brotherhood. we are not seeing improvement in terms of freedom of expression. >> is there anything that can be done by any international actors that would make egypt mitigate its treatment of journalists and activists? what i am asking is can egypt leaders who pressured into protecting press freedom? >> well, international, activists, researchers, scholars have been calling on the international community since 2013 to put pressure on the egyptian regime.
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unfortunately there has been a lot of reluctance. there's been a lack of willingness on the part of key international actors to do anything substantial. to answer question, i do think it is possible. the united states could speak volumes if they actually withheld aid from egypt for instance. that is one example. with the u.s. government has not shown any serious willingness to do much, other than pay lip service to concepts associated with human rights and freedom and democracy, and so on and so forth. in issuing the occasional slap on the rest to do -- to the cc regime. the regime is concerned about its international image. they are concerned about pressure that could be applied. they have tried to put on this
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façade of democratic reform. largely because they are concerned. but as i said, to date there has not been anything meaningful that has been done by any international actor. >> mohammed was talking about the aid that the u.s. gives to egypt and how that can be leveraged into getting egypt to act differently when it comes to dissident voices, journalists. i want to ask you specifically about that relationship. the u.s. gives egypt $1.3 billion in military aid annually. the u.s. congress put human rights related conditions on $300 million of that $1.3 billion. in january the biden administration announced it canceled $130 million of that 300 million in military aid to egypt because of human rights concerns. the state department says egypt
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had not met the conditions to receive the aid. in the grand scheme of things, if you're talking about $130 million out of what is essentially $1.3 billion per year, is that an amount that would compel egyptian president -- the egyptian president to do anything to improve the human rights situation in egypt? >> absolutely. it is one factor. that goes into the relationship that defines much of what the president wants. i think other factors put together that can improve at least the situation. i think, one of them is meeting him in washington dc. the president and the -- biden have not had an oval office meeting in a year and a half and that is a big factor. with the upcoming trick with
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president biden going into the region. and trying to extract as much positions across the region. and a planned agenda. these are two factors. i think there's a lot more improvement in terms of how congress is able to exert pressure that has to do with something that the ministration has said which is protecting dissidents, abroad, including u.s. citizens. that is one thing we can see in the conditionality. there's a lot more specificities about it. with talks of public officials from the biden administration. that is the main idea behind the sentencing. the exiled voices. people have been able to basically shut down any conversation inside the borders.
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the remaining voices outside become more critical, including al jazeera, regionally but also internationally out of there. yes, it matters, to the president, having that meeting. it also matters what he saw recently, for the first time, the u.s. justice department indicting a spy for the egyptian intelligence here, that they wanted to spy on dissidents out of new york. that was something i think that sent a lot more messages about the possibility of other punitive measures like sanctions, or sanctions that bans that we have seen in the administration. >> we have seen the statement from amnesty international condemning this verdict another
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vertex and sent -- other verdicts. if we could take a step back. why is egypt silencing critical voices? >> there silencing critical voices because they don't believe what they don't want to see. it's that simple. from the point of view of security, forces right now, it is what led to the government and partner regime was the limited space of freedoms. so, the concern is from the point of view right now is that any critical view can smuggle into measures and turn into dangerous abilities. but, the issue is that in order to prevent any sort of oppositional position, they silencing critical voices.
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you see that in targeting not just political opponents, but you're going after individuals over facebook posts, going after lawyers, to further prevent lawyers and reporters to report any violations in the country. we saw a lawyer who posted on the social media page about -- and now he was facing terrorism charges. it is a step towards antigovernment mobilization. >> i want to talk specifically about the sentence that was given to him. this is a 15 year jail sentence. it was given for spreading false news over a 2018 interview ab
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dule fotouh. he, himself a sentence 15 years himself over accusations of body against the state. even in a country where the jailing and sentencing of journalists and dissidents has become quite common, does this action, the sentencing of this reporter for this interview, does this not seem excessive? >> what does that seem excessive? the light -- , the president came to power on the back of a military coup. violent out carried out at the time was excessive. there were five large-scale massacres of civilians carried out in the summer of 2013. the regime went on to eliminate all forms of political opposition. they arrested tens of thousands
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of people, including political leaders. the band all of the key opposition parties. they shut down all of the key opposition news outlets. so, what in that was not excessive? this is an extreme authoritarian regime. so, while it is shocking to us, that a journalist can be sentenced to 15 years in jail for "false news" for asking questions in interviews, really it is entirely consistent with the regimes motives. i want to piggyback on what was said on the previous question. in terms of why the resume acts out the way he does -- regime ask out the way does, this is a very scared and paranoid regime. in addition to the things i mentioned about elimination is him -- eliminationism, we have
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to remember the president is deeply insecure. a few people tried to put their names in the hat and run against him in the presidential election a few years ago and he arrested them. or otherwise eliminated them. that underscored the extent to which he is insecure. that is one of the reasons why egypt does not tolerate any sign of dissent whatsoever. i thought philip luther's amnesty middle after -- middle east director said the egyptian authorities have made it very clear that any who challenges the official narrative will be severely punished. if there is an opportunity we should talk at some point today about the immigration minister who threatened egyptians abroad with death. a few years back in a speech in
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canada saying that any egyptian who speaks against the state who criticizes the government could be killed could be sliced up in her words. >> what legal justification is there for egyptian courts to dole out these kinds of verdicts and sentences? what is the rationale that they are going by? also, from your point of view is there any space that currently exists in egypt for opposition or for dissent or critical voices? >> nodded all. what we -- not at all. what we saw is the same promise the president has given over and over and never delivered on. we may see some adjustments to allow some of those things to happen this year, including why they host international environment conference in september. of course, it is an opportunity
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for the government to try to gain some support as it tackles its economic challenges. an immediate threats. of course there is an opening, an opportunity that can materialize but those are legal battles that no one has control of because they're happening in emergency colts. those who have issued even the penalty against some al jazeera journalists in the past and some will continue to be jail today in pretrial detention, without evidence, some for four years or more. yes, there is any -- not any legal ability to find justice. that is why many people are demanding justice to happen in a political price or even in u.s. courts or european parliament
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courts. not just in congress are other ways. yes we want to see a lot more focus on the right of dissidents, but also shed light on people who do not get the attention that al jazeera journalists have. there are far more than journalists in prison in egypt today. there are so many who do not even have any affiliation with an outlet, let alone a regional or international one. >> we have run out of time. we are going to have to leave the conversation there. thank you so much to all of our guests. thanks for watching, you can see the program again any time by visiting our website. and for further discussion go to our website page. you can also join the conversation on twitter. from the whole team here, bye.
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