[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Sunday acquitted an Al Jazeera [media website] television cameraman and 61 others accused of participating in demonstrations in Cairo last July. Cameraman Mohamed Badr was arrested during protests in Ramses Square in central Cairo against the army’s ouster of president Mohamed Morsi [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Badr, who has been held since July, was accused of “carrying out acts of violence and thuggery,” attempting to storm a police station and targeting police officers with “firearms and birdshots.” Al Jazeera repeatedly denied the accusations. Badr’s Lawyer Saaban Saeed told AFP [AFP report] that Badr is no longer involved in any other case and is expected to be released by Egyptian authorities on Monday, following an order of the court.
Last week Egyptian prosecutors charged [JURIST report] 20 Al Jazeera journalists with joining or conspiring with a terrorist group and broadcasting false images. The journalists are accused of altering video footage to portray Egypt in a state of “civil war” to assist the Muslim Brotherhood [party website; JURIST news archive], which was declared a terrorist group [JURIST report] last December by the Egyptian government. The Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website] published a report [JURIST report] last December finding Egypt one of the top three most dangerous nations in the world for journalists. Egypt saw a considerable increase in journalist deaths in part because of the sectarian and political violence. In September Al Jazeera took legal action [JURIST report] against the Egyptian government, accusing the regime of detaining journalists [Al Jazeera report] without charges or on politically motivated charges, raiding Al Jazeera offices, confiscating equipment and jamming transmission of broadcasts. Al Jazeera demanded [press release] that the journalists detained in December should be released.