Affiliation and Dual Passports Complicate Journalist’s Case

passport“A Canadian is a Canadian and deserving of diplomatic protection, whatever one thinks of his or her affiliations,” writes  International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. Today’s column deals with an Egyptian court’s sentences of three journalists this week. Two complications plague the controversial case: the tricky issue of dual citizenship, and their employment by Al Jazeera, a news outlet whose English service professionalism is widely respected, but not in any way matched by its controversial Arabic service. An excerpt:

It’s easy and entirely justifiable to let loose an outraged rant at the prison sentences handed down in Egypt to three Al Jazeera journalists, including Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, after a piece of judicial theatre so farcical it denigrates the name of kangaroo courts.

But whether Fahmy, the acting bureau chief in Egypt for the Al Jazeera television network, Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed deserve more consideration than the thousands of other people caught up in the Middle East power struggle is a more difficult question.

Like all journalists operation in conflict zones, they took measured risks in order to do their jobs. That doesn’t mean they are the authors of their own fate, but it does mean they knew what they were getting into, or should have done.

The three were arrested on December 29 last year at Cairo’s Marriott hotel where they had set up a temporary office while they reported on protests against the military ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood administration of President Mohammed Morsi the previous July. After the coup, the military declared the brotherhood a terrorist group. The three Al Jazeera men were accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, broadcasting “false news,” and undermining Egypt’s national security by suggesting the country was on the brink of civil war … read more (subscription required*)

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Dual Citizenship no Guarantee of Protection

For deeper background on the dynamics surrounding Egypt’s government, Al Jazeera, and the state of Qatar – which owns Al Jazeera – read Manthorpe’s column earlier this month, in which he explains how “from being the poster boy for a modernizing Middle East, the filthy rich Gulf state of Qatar has become a menace:”

Soccer bribery is the least of Qatar’s sins

Jonathan Manthorpe’s columnist page is here.

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