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Egypt sentences 3 Al Jazeera reporters to 3 years in prison

Baher Mohamed, a journalist with Al Jazeera English, in the court room on Saturday in Cairo. Credit Asmaa Waguih/Reuters


Baher Mohamed, a journalist with Al Jazeera English, in the court room on Saturday in Cairo. Credit Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

A judge in Egypt today delivered a verdict in the trial of three news reporters from Al Jazeera English. They are sentenced to three years in prison, on charges widely believed to be politically motivated and otherwise baseless.

From the New York Times account:

The verdict on Saturday was especially stunning because Egyptian officials had repeatedly signaled that they viewed the trial as a nuisance that had brought unwanted scrutiny of the government. The families of the journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, said they had expected that the men would either be exonerated on Saturday or sentenced to time already served.

But instead, the judge, Hassan Farid, upheld what human rights advocates said was among many baseless accusations leveled during the journalists’ long legal odyssey: that they had “broadcast false news” about Egypt on Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison in Egypt” [nyt]

Outrage at the verdict is widespread, and sparked a flood of social media condemnation.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney (who is also the wife of actor George Clooney) represented Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, one of the three jailed reporters. The men were first charged in 2013 for allegedly being a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and airing faked footage with the intent of harming national security.

"The verdict today sends a very dangerous message in Egypt," said Clooney after the ruling. "It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news."

Journalists around the world voice support for Netzpolitik after outrageous 'treason' investigation

Reuters


Reuters

Last week, the German government informed the popular news site Netzpolitik that two of its journalists were under investigation for treason for reporting on their government's mass surveillance programs - in other words they were being investigated for doing their job.

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If the FBI has a backdoor to Facebook or Apple encryption, we are less safe

Reuters


Reuters

Freedom of the Press Foundation director Trevor Timm tells Boing Boing,

Now that the USA Freedom Act is out of the way, it seems pretty clear the next battle in Congress will almost certainly be over encryption, as the FBI has not stopped its push to force tech companies to insert a backdoor into their communications tools, despite being ridiculed for it by security experts. The FBI seems to push it even farther in the past week, testifying before Congress that they need to stop encryption "above all else" and leaking a story to the LA Times about ISIS using encrypted text messaging apps. I wrote about what a dumb move it is on several levels for the Guardian.

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Obama’s Justice Department secretly helped kill FOIA transparency bill

U.S. President Barack Obama looks toward Attorney General Eric Holder. Justice Department investigators have engaged in aggressive tactics against journalists in recent months. [Reuters]


U.S. President Barack Obama looks toward Attorney General Eric Holder. Justice Department investigators have engaged in aggressive tactics against journalists in recent months. [Reuters]

We’ve long known the Justice Department’s stance on transparency has been hypocritical and disingenuous. But they’ve really outdone themselves this time.

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Australian bill will put journos in prison for 10 years for reporting leaks

The bill was introduced on Wednesday by Attorney General George Brandis, and it gives the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the power to imprison leakers (including reporters) for five years, with ten year sentences for anything regarding "special intelligence operations" (illegal spy operations conducted under promise of immunity).

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House approves 'media shield' amendment, as reporter reveals 2011 subpoena fight

houseofrep232way_wide-4bac6d92f39d630d0f94f3c708ca06710a717d2f-s6-c30The House of Representatives today voted 225-183 to approve an appropriations bill amendment that bars the Justice Department from forcing reporters to testify about their confidential sources.

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Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's comments on Edward Snowden and the NSA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a group of supporters and students at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Gaston De Cardenas


Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a group of supporters and students at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Gaston De Cardenas

Hillary Clinton made her first extended public remarks about Edward Snowden late last week, and unfortunately she misstated some basic facts about the NSA whistleblower and how events have played out in the last year. Here’s a breakdown of what she said and where she went wrong:

Clinton: "If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been… I don't understand why he couldn't have been part of the debate at home."

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Snowden that even NSA reform advocates have furthered. Edward Snowden could not be part of this debate at home, period.

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Press freedom case of NYT reporter James Risen may go to Supreme Court

"A federal appeals court will not reconsider a decision compelling a journalist to identify a source who disclosed details of a secret CIA operation," reports the AP:

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Journalists at Bradley Manning trial report hostile conditions for press


UPDATE: Bradley Manning trial judge increased press security "because of repeat violations of the rules of court.”


Journalists and bloggers covering closing arguments in the military trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning are reporting a far more intense security climate at Ft. Meade today, as compared to the past 18 months of pre-trial hearings and court proceedings.

@carwinb, @kgosztola, @nathanLfuller, and @wikileakstruck have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being "screamed at" for having "windows" open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.

I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn't work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren't allowed in the press room), it wasn't this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that's standard for civilian or military trials.

But the vibe is very different today in the Smallwood building where reporters are required to work, about a quarter mile away from the actual courtroom. Tweets from some of the attending journalists are below; there are about 40-50 of them present and not all are tweeting. Internet access is spotty today. Oh, wait; as I type this blog post, I'm now seeing updates that they're being told they are not allowed to access Twitter at all. Why has the climate changed so much in the final few days of the trial? What is the Army afraid of?

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