World and Nation

Video shows Egypt police arresting two journalists

Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting.

CAIRO — A leaked video of the arrest of two journalists offered a cinematic close-up on Monday of the new military-backed government’s crackdown on dissent: slow-moving footage of a hotel room full of telecommunications equipment set to the thumping, sinister score of the recent superhero movie “Thor: The Dark World.”

The video, broadcast Sunday night on a private channel that supports the government and circulated widely over the Internet since then, is the latest salvo in a propaganda campaign by the state-run and pro-military news media. The goal is to paint the arrested journalists — known here as “the Marriott Cell,” for the hotel they were arrested in — as part of a terrorist conspiracy.

Both journalists shown in the video are established correspondents who were working for the English language affiliate of Al-Jazeera, the Qatari-owned Pan-Arab news network. The two, Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian television producer who previously worked for CNN, and Peter Greste, an Australian correspondent who previously worked for the BBC, have been detained since their arrest on Dec. 29.

The video begins with a close-up of Fahmy’s frightened face as police officers walk in the door of the hotel suite he and Greste had used as a studio. The camera pans across laptop computers, television cameras, stage lights, other telecommunications gear and even the toilet. And the video lingers on the cover of a book by Fahmy about Egypt’s 2011 uprising, “Egypt Freedom Story.”

Al-Jazeera is virtually the only Arabic-language news organization still operating in Egypt that is critical of the military-backed government and supportive of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Since ousting President Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood from office last summer, the government has closed down the network’s bureaus and arrested several of its journalists. Others suspected of working for Al-Jazeera are often attacked in the streets by mobs of the government’s civilian supporters.

In a statement, Al-Jazeera said the broadcast could prejudice a potential trial, calling it “an attempt to demonize the journalists” and “the latest incident of incitement against the network.”

“Our crew were journalists doing their job,” said Salah Negm, the news director at Al-Jazeera’s English language channel.

Others called the juxtaposition of the ordinary telecommunications equipment with the melodramatic score darkly comic.

“The Ministry of Interior told us so and so, the Ministry of Health told us so and so,” Fahmy mimics, pretending to hold a microphone.

The two were among 20 Al-Jazeera journalists charged this week with broadcasting false reports of unrest to help the Brotherhood destabilize Egypt. Fahmy’s family says that he is being held at a prison known here as “The Scorpion,” where they say he is kept in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep and denied medical treatment for his injured shoulder.

1 Comment
Brunaux almost 8 years ago

I am very sorry for Egypt.. the democracy hope vanished so quickly.. Funny enough, they are back to the 99.99 famous votes' results for their "constitution".. Egypt is back to square one, maybe worse. The new regime lead by El-Sissy (the de facto president/ruler) is killing and oppressing anyone who is opposing them. Since the military coup, more than two thousands have been killed and thousands were put in prison without any trial. They fabricate the bombing and killing of their own people to continue their tight control over any opposition under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The only voice that exists now is the pro-regime. The Mubarak regime is back with the full support of the current regime. El-Sissy is the new ugly face of Mubarak.. he is a tyrant. Do not be surprized to find out one day that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is funded by the Egyptian Military Intelligence. This is not anew to Egypt; the Mubarak regime was doing it. It was revealed that they orchestrated the bombing of Al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria in the New Years Eve.

Egyptians should not let the failure and mistakes of the MB eradicate their dream of democracy..