Egypt arrests 11 Islamists for Facebook activity

continued from page 1

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

The ministry said several among the 11 were arrested for sharing postings from other pages called the Free Islamic Army.

Security officials say that since the crushing of two pro-Morsi protest camps in August last year, Brotherhood pages posted names, pictures and personal details about police officers they accuse of involvement in the assault. The day witnessed one of Egypt’s worst bloodbaths, with hundreds killed.

The postings led Interior Ministry to issue a warning to its officers to change mobile phones, addresses and wear civilian clothes.

Over the past months, several drive-by shootings by militants targeted senior police officers including Lt. Col. Mohammed Mabrouk, whom authorities say was involved in investigating Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Authorities also expanded the crackdown to go after the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV news network, which they have long accused of bias in favor of the Brotherhood. The network denies any bias.

On Wednesday, 20 Al-Jazeera journalists were ordered put on trial on charges of aiding or joining a terrorist group and endangering national security.

The charges now effectively depict the station’s reporting as support for terrorism after the government declared the Brotherhood a terror organization in December.

After Wednesday’s indictment of the 20, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was “deeply concerned” about the lack of freedoms in Egypt and the country’s “egregious disregard for the protection of basic rights and freedoms.”

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Badr Abdelattie, rejected the U.S. criticism on Thursday, insisting that the judicial system ensures fair trials and the government does not interfere in its work.

No date has been set for the trial and the full lists of charges and defendants have not been released.

The 20 defendants are known to include three men working for Al-Jazeera English: Acting bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian, award-winning correspondent Peter Greste of Australia and producer Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian. The three were arrested on Dec. 29 in a raid on the hotel suites where they were working.

Greste’s parents, Lois and Juris, called the arrests of the three an abuse of human rights, free speech and journalists’ freedom to report.

“Someone didn’t like their report. For that, they are now put into a maximum security prison for what is clearly punishment - not mere detention,” Juris Greste told reporters in Brisbane. “This is most undeserved, outrageous and shameful.”

__

Associated Press writer Kristen Gelineau contributed to this report from Sydney, Australia.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks