HRW: New Egypt counterterrorism law threatens press

HRW: New Egypt counterterrorism law threatens press

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [official website] on Wednesday criticized [HRW report] Egypt’s new counterterrorism law saying it infringes on freedom of the press. The new law also gives prosecutors the power to detain suspects without a court order. The HRW Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director stated in response to the issues with the new law, “[t]he government has equipped itself with even greater powers to continue stamping out its critics and opponents under its vague and ever-expanding war on terrorism.” Critics worry [JURIST report] that the fines, (some upwards of $25,000), imposed on journalists for reporting contradictory reports to what government statements say could effectively shut down small news agencies and deter them from reporting important events.

The prosecution and subsequent imprisonment of journalists by the Egyptian government has garnered widespread criticism from international governments and rights groups. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] welcomed [JURIST report] the decision by Egyptian authorities to release on bail two Al Jazeera journalists awaiting retrial on terror charges. The men were arrested [JURIST report] in December 2013 along with fellow Al Jazeera journalist and Australian national Peter Greste. In March Greste was released [JURIST report] from the Cairo detention facility and deported, under a law allowing the deportation of foreign nationals to their home countries. Fahmy is currently facing retrial and suing [JURIST report] Al Jazeera, alleging that the news organization was in fact a sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, and this connection negligently led to Fahmy being detained