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Amanpour confronts Egyptian businessman over jailing of journalists

January 14th, 2014
03:29 PM ET

Egypt businessman on the state of Egypt

By Mick Krever, CNN

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday confronted Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris over the jailing of three al Jazeera journalists in that country.

Sawiris – one of Egypt’s wealthiest citizens, founder of the Free Egyptians Party and former chairman of the telecom giant Orascom – provided financial support for the opposition to former President Mohamed Morsy.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed from Al Jazeera English were arrested by Egyptian authorities on December 29 and have been held since.

Egyptian authorities say the journalists held illegal meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a terrorist group last month.

“Three of my colleagues are in jail for doing their job, as you know well,” Amanpour said.

Sawiris raised doubts about the journalists’ credentials to be in the country, and said that al Jazeera was “fabricating” stories.

“These are allegations that they’ve obviously denied, and we deny it on behalf of our colleagues as well,” Amanpour said.

Click above to see Amanpour’s full interview with Sawiris.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Journalism • Latest Episode
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Mohamed

    You did a great job and thanks a million for being so professional. Again and again, Sawiris is lying and he basically tried to falsify facts and even fake new ones. I laughed on his bizarre answers, especially when he talked about the connection between Zawahri and Morsi. You were absolutely right that making of MB a terrorist group will be an incubator for more terrorists in the long run. Thanks Christiane for being a great interviewer. Sawiris was perplexed and his mere lies were obvious.

    January 14, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Reply
    • BB

      I do agree with every single word said by Sawiris. We are Egyptians and we are aware of what's going on here more than Ms. Amanpour. She is unprofessional by all means. Sorry for wasting my time watching you before.

      A Message to American brothers and sisters: Don't believe your media regarding the international news they are biased. Listen to the people of the other nations themselves.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:57 am | Reply
      • Dodo

        every word he said is true

        January 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • Tarek

      Mohamed are you really saying that your Morsi was not taking orders directly from Elzwahery?? Yes or No answer please.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Reply
    • VIVA EGYPT

      Until 2011, I used to respect CNN, but now CNN is not worth my time to explain ... all I can say is :
      WE THE EGYPTIANS DON'T CARE whatever u think CNN, along with the awful Obama and US administration. U just got exposed to the whole entire world. Shame on u. As for us, THE PROUD EGYPTIANS, we're just fine, loving our country and moving forward. It's none of ur business. If u don't like what's going on in Egypt, just stay away.

      January 16, 2014 at 4:36 am | Reply
    • Adel R

      The larger issue here is that there are plenty of Arabic reports that back up what Sawiris was saying. Instead of telling Sawiris he has no evidence, perhaps Amanpour should have asked him if he had any. If there is any, it should be Amanpour’s job as a “journalist” to investigate the claims. Adding further credibility to Sawiris’s claim is that Mursi’s former Chief of Staff Rifaa El-Tahtawi and Ayman al-Zawahiri are first cousins.

      January 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  2. Mohamed

    Those who justify the illegal detention of journalists don't preach us about democracy. We have a bloody military coup in Egypt and as you can see from the vote on referendum abroad and in Egypt, the coup is losing the battle. Peaceful protests will defeat the tanks and bullets, but the price will be expensive.

    January 14, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  3. Half Full

    Excellent interview. Mr. Sawaris looked like a deer in the headlights. Seems like he is used to fawning adulation and not hard questions.

    Mr. Sawiris, reporting that you do not approve of does not warrant jailing journalists. If the Al Jazeera journalists were "falsifying facts" why didn't you point to their falsehoods and rebut them? Is that not better than jailing them without charge? You are fooling nobody, sir.

    January 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Reply
    • Adel R

      The larger issue here is that there are plenty of Arabic reports that back up what Sawiris was saying. Instead of telling Sawiris he has no evidence, perhaps Amanpour should have asked him if he had any. If there is any, it should be Amanpour’s job as a “journalist” to investigate the claims. Adding further credibility to Sawiris’s claim is that Mursi’s former Chief of Staff Rifaa El-Tahtawi and Ayman al-Zawahiri are first cousins.

      January 17, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  4. Sarah

    False Allegations and actions based on those false allegations, are what got us to where we are in the first place in Egypt.
    Its the reason all these people that we know are dead and all the others are in jail.
    A friend of mine Amena, a 17 year old girl is in prison for simply being in the vicinity of Al Azhar University. Another, a colleage of mine who was supposed to start his first year of college at the German University in Cairo on the 7th of October as a freshman, was arrested on the streets with his father on the 6th of October and has been falsely charged with numerous charges that are simply not in the capabilities of a 17 year old.
    These are mad times we're living here in Egypt. The challenge is to try and keep sane.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:58 am | Reply
  5. Sarah

    False Allegations and actions based on those false allegations, are what got us to where we are in the first place in Egypt.
    Its the reason all these people that we know are dead and all the others are in jail.
    A friend of mine Amena, a 17 year old girl is in prison for simply being in the vicinity of Al Azhar University. Another, a colleage of mine who was supposed to start his first year of college at the German University in Cairo on the 7th of October as a freshman, was arrested on the streets with his father on the 6th of October and has been falsely charged with numerous charges that are simply not in the capabilities of a 17 year old.
    These are mad times we're living here in Egypt. The challenge is to try to stay sane.

    January 15, 2014 at 5:06 am | Reply
  6. Marcin Skublicki

    Ms. Amanpour, I really envy you for having guts to stay calm during this interview, for having guts to aks just the right questions and for having guts to insist on getting answers even when your interviewees attempt to drown you in the ocean of their propaganda.

    January 15, 2014 at 6:47 am | Reply
  7. Omar Khalifa

    Sawiris is not lying I think Amanpour is misguided and what Sawiris said yesterday reflects most liberals opinions 'Me included' , we don't want terrorists, and we don't want Al Jazeera channel, so if you work for them and sneak into our country without permission you'll simply be thrown in jail. If you are against this law then it is your problem Amanpour, it is obvious that you are biased and against liberals. You obviuosly prefer the Muslim Brotherhood in charge but too bad we did not allow that to happen.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:34 am | Reply
    • Adam

      Fascists pretending to be liberals. Such a classic arab secularist. You guys would much rather make our countries into prisons for the people than there to be actual democracy. You're a disgrace to the arabs, to muslims and to humanity.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:45 am | Reply
  8. ashok

    President Morsy, unfamiliar with the exercise of executive authority, made mistakes, but that does not justify the replacement of one Pharaoh by another.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • Adam

      Mursi was by no means a pharaoh

      January 15, 2014 at 10:45 am | Reply
      • Yaser

        True, Mursi was absolutely no pharaoh. He was fair and inclusive. He wanted to teach the people in Egypt who have lived for generations in fear and oppression that they actually could speak and stand up for their rights. Unfortunately this was used by a lying media down there.

        January 15, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
  9. BB

    I do agree with every single word said by Sawiris. We are Egyptians and we are aware of what's going on here more than Ms. Amanpour. She is unprofessional by all means. Sorry for wasting my time watching you before.

    A Message to American brothers and sisters: Don't believe your media regarding the international news they are biased. Listen to the people of the other nations themselves.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:58 am | Reply
    • Mohamed

      Thanks for the advice, but please don't call you brothers and sisters. We are American Egyptians living in the US, hence we know what a real democracy is. Don't preach what you don't practice please. Sawiris was lying throughout the whole interview and I praise Amanpour for being so calm and professional. Everybody knows that MB are not terrorists and Sisi declared them as terrorists even before investigations, just a few hours after Mansura incident. We aren't that fool.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  10. Ali

    Oh and by the way 54 million voting YES is NOT a coup. The people have spoken clearly and it's not our problem if the American audience are too dumbed down with propaganda to figure it out. Egyptians are fighting the same jihadists that Obama is supporting! FACT!

    January 15, 2014 at 10:15 am | Reply
    • Yaser

      Lol, do you realy think that 54 million went to vote? Last year it was 22 million, this year you got a large majority boycotting the election. Not to mention all the empty polling stations we've seen. You my dear friend are a product of the media's lies in Egypt.

      January 15, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Reply
      • minafaheim

        I think you might be blight to the large majority (e.g. large numbers of Copts, Liberals, Moderates, Actors, Media Journalists, Non-religious Muslims, Nasserists, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. who boycotted the last election. I expect turnout numbers to be higher for his referendum

        January 16, 2014 at 10:48 am |
    • Mohamed

      :-) hahaha your are pathetic. The number of people in whole Egypt who have the right to vote are 52 million people. How come 54 millions voted??? You are really a product of Lamees Al Hadidi and Amr Adeeb. Please at least try not to be as dumb as Sawiris. We cannot take it. Shame!

      January 15, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  11. Ali

    I wonder what Obama would do to a FOREIGN TV channel's media team caught interviewing and broadcasting live the leader of Al Qaeda from the Marriot Hotel New York or the IRA leadership back 20 years from the Dorchester London when the law of the country says it is illegal?, Bloody hyprocrites!

    January 15, 2014 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • Mohamed

      Leader of Al Qaeda???!!! Sorry, but you are too stupid to understand what you are talking about. CNN deleted one of your posts, maybe because you are insane and simply spitting up lies and false propaganda. CIA doesn't need your false accusations to know what is going on in Egypt. Unfortunately, USA is supporting the coup and they give the military 1.6 billion dollars this year. It is the free media here in the US that are still not biased. Did you get? Go watch Amr Adeeb or Lamees please.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  12. Ali

    LOL CNN just deleted one of my posts !

    There you go America! so much for US censorship and Freedom of expression LOL

    Now will they post this one? we shall see.................

    January 15, 2014 at 10:22 am | Reply
  13. Naguib Taraboulsi

    Oh Miss. Amanpour... you poor... misguided.... uneducated... retarded woman...

    you seriously need to get on the ground and talk to the people before you start your rants that make absolutely no sense. you are just so disconnected from reality....

    shame on you...

    January 15, 2014 at 11:21 am | Reply
  14. Ali

    Jesus... speak about lying to the public.

    my American brothers and sisters, do not listen to a word this woman says, she is ironically protecting and defending the root cause of 911. shame on you Christine.

    January 15, 2014 at 11:28 am | Reply
  15. Hany Said

    Just because someone says I am a journalist (w/ or w/out a permit) doesn't give him a carte blanche to roam free nor immunity from the ruling government. Hec many intelligence agencies, the CIA included, have used such a cover in the past. 90% of Egyptians have witnessed the true agenda of Al-jazeera over the past few years. In their eyes, this is not a news organization anymore, but more like the propaganda branch of the MB. As such they now fall under the umbrella of the terrorist organization. They have incited riots, they divided the country with their false and well orchestrated reports, their "journalism" has directly contributed to the death of many Egyptians.
    Amanpour, of course they are your colleagues. They are your colleagues in the US government led bandwagon to discredit the actions of the Egyptian army. Where the ENTIRE world saw the removal of Morsi as a demand made my more than 30MILLION people in the streets of Egypt and then RIGHTFULLY enforced by the Army, YOUR media and that of Al-jazeera still call it a Coup to this day. Everyone non-MB high profile individual that YOU interviewed said that this was not a coup, yet you still claim the opposite. Cut yourself free from the puppeteer and get back to REAL journalism Mrs Amanpour. You're are better than this.

    January 15, 2014 at 11:38 am | Reply
  16. Dodo

    defending the terrorism Muslim Brotherhood and Jazeera journalists who fabricate stories on line which been recorded and clear for any normal person was unprofessional . And I do not believe you like Muslim MB we as Egyptians believe you are using them to turn Egypt into another Iraq and Syria

    January 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  17. adleys

    I used to respect #Amanpour but now no matter what lies she spreads around, #Egypt will never become another Afghanistan, and the US won't create another Taliban or Al Qaeda by supporting moslem brotherhood.

    January 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • Dodo

      well said this is the feeling about US from all people around me, hope US review its supporting to the terrorism MB group

      January 16, 2014 at 3:47 am | Reply
  18. Ahmed

    Where is my post you lying channel ? Where is it ?

    January 15, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  19. Ahmed

    Guys this channel is a fabricating lying channel i wrote a long comment 3 times and didn't appear.

    January 15, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  20. Fady

    Where is my post lol?

    January 15, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  21. Fady

    Long live the demonstrated voice of truth in the streets of Egypt, one day the whole world will realize that the power is in the people’s hands, not in the hands of presidents or governors or even media journalists, Legitimacy ITS IN THE STREET

    January 15, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  22. Fady

    It really shows what kind of a journalist Amanpoor is that the dialogue ended when sawiris told her facts that she or anyone else in the world couldn’t deny or justify.

    January 15, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  23. Fady

    The Muslim brotherhood is a terrorist organization and finally Egyptians realized that, I will never forget hearing MB leaders threatening to turn Egypt into Afghanistan I heard it with my own ears nobody told me so it not a media falsification!!!

    January 15, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  24. Fady

    And btw and the MB who brought a governor to Luxor who was imprisoned for slaying the tourists in 1997 just show the world who these people really were. And about Al Jazeera I remember a banner in January 2011 that said “together to take down Egypt” 1st page on their website. So again I am just talking about my own experience and memories.

    January 15, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  25. Fady

    Also Hitler was democratically elected, but people seem to forget what history should have taught generations... being democratically elected, then ruling like a tyrant isnt democracy, thats Morsi

    January 15, 2014 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  26. Aser

    All commentators lost sight of one little things, Mrs Amanpour should have interviewed a lawyer or a legislator not a businessman to ask about the legality of a jailed person. Mr. Sawiris should only answer questions that are business related, he is not affiliated with any political party or even a political candidate at all. Sorry Mr Sawiris CNN trapped you!!!
    They got what they need from you.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  27. Paul

    . Sounded like CNN were more interested in bleeting to Sawiris about the poor journalists more than the actual situation in Egypt. What on earth does she think he is going to do about it ? Probably one of the most pathetic interviews I have ever seen on television.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  28. Reema

    Amanpour I used to like you but today I felt you are a member of Muslim Brotherhood and not professional at all , you were very nervous and interrupted the guy many times before he finished what he needed to say. You got angry because he didn't say what you want to hear. We agree of every thing Sawirs said and we encourage our government to take more steps against the terrorists who are bombing innocent people and trying to making violence every where to bring back a stupid president Morsi. Shame on you Amanpour to defend these terrorists and to ignore what they have been doing since their stupid president went to hell

    January 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  29. Reema

    Amanpur , if you are a member of Muslim Brotherhoods and Qatar funds you and your channel so we understand why you ran such a pathetic interview .

    January 15, 2014 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  30. VIVA EGYPT

    HAHAHAHAH CNN DARES NOT POST MY COMMENT... VERY PATHETIC

    January 16, 2014 at 4:41 am | Reply
  31. VIVA EGYPT

    OK... HERE'S ANOTHER COPY OF THE COMMENT CNN DELETED
    I USED TO RESPECT CNN UNTIL 2011, BUT NOW CNN IS NOT WORTH MY TIME TO EXPLAIN. JUST WANT TO TELL U THAT :
    WE, THE PROUD EGYPTIANS, DO NOT CARE WHAT U, UR AWFUL OBAMA OR THE US ADMINISTRATION THINK. WE LOVE OUR COUNTRY, WE R MOVING FORWARD. AL JAAZEERA PEOPLE ARE NOT WELCOME IN EGYPT. IF U DON'T LIKE WHAT'S GOING ON IN EGYPT. JUST STAY AWAY. IT'S NONE OF UR BUSINESS.

    January 16, 2014 at 4:49 am | Reply
  32. Hanna

    The liberal media did not say a word that Muslim Brotherhood destroyed and burned 82 churches in Egypt avenge ousting of Mursi by the Military .

    January 17, 2014 at 12:00 am | Reply
  33. Abdul Reheem

    CNN has a contract with ALJAZEERA.CNN hiding the truth
    It is revolution not a military coup.muslim brotherhood are terrorist supported by OBAMA (BARACA HUSSEIN ABOU OMAMA) Muslim president who is deceiving USA BY HIS LIES

    January 17, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Reply
    • Elhadad

      In God's name,STOP making Egyptians look like fools. Think,if you can,! before making such ridiculous statments!
      Obama is fooling All the U.S.A. & the rest of the world but not YOU ??? You are a piece of work !!

      April 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  34. Helmy Baligh

    I have stopped watching CNN for many years now due to inaccuracy and biased coverage of Egypt. I have watched the last 10 min of the interview with Mr. Sawiris as it was wildly circulated in the facebook due to outragously unprofessional attiitude of Miss Amanpour with her guest. Actually the term unprofessional is not appropriate with what everbody I know have watched. Miss Amanpour conducted the interview like she was experiencing menopausal hot flushes or she was just has been dumped by an Egyptian boyfriend. How on earth she allowed herself to express or all this hostility and twisting well known facts with this unjustified rudeness. As for her what she described them as "colleagues" referring to Gezira crew arrested due to coverage against country regulations like anywhere in the world she should has kept some distance really from a station which breaks every rule in respectable media practice with faking footage and deliberate manipulating numbers and figures shamelessly let alone on cutting the transmission on guests who are stating any pro present regimen. After this interview I think miss Amanpour ought to retire or may be consult a shrink for letting her mood or emotional state to take the upper hand in her work.

    January 18, 2014 at 3:50 am | Reply
  35. Elhadad

    Reading some of the above comments i started to wonder, what has happened to logic,truth,decency & a good many other values?! you are not allowed a different opinion,if you do, then you could be anything from a traitor who must be shot to being a liar & become a social outcast ! Where does democracy fall-in ? are we so nostalgic to oppression & the one opinion,one party & with me or then against me slogan? In the free world one does not mind what others say,as a matter of fact they find that a healthy sign & not a Sin! we are masters of criticism & turn two & not just one eye to our own faults & shortcomings? case-in-point,criticim towards foreign media, what about owers?? who spell lies out of their teeth? sawiras, is now considered an honest patriot,i dont know if his patriotism is really impartial??
    Democracy is not just a phrase,it's a practice & a way of life that can not be tailor made, so now i use the slogan: be with it all the way or just keep it as is now, static......

    April 12, 2014 at 10:53 am | Reply
  36. Ayman

    The Facts are people in Egypt are dying or going to Jail for expressing there opinion. If you can not understand that you need to learn what democracy is

    January 14, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  37. Ahmed

    I had to rewrite it three times where is it ?

    January 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Reply

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