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Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste forced to read food labels to avoid boredom in Egypt jail, parents say

April 9th, 2014
02:45 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Peter Greste, the Al Jazeera journalist who along with two colleagues has been jailed in Egypt since the end of December, suffered such boredom that reading food labels was his only refuge, Greste’s parents told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour.

“Up until a couple of weeks ago, they weren’t even allowed reading material,” Greste’s mother, Lois, said in an exclusive interview. “So to keep themselves occupied, they used anything – off labels, off plastic bottles, and off food containers.”

“They made a mural on the wall, which said ‘Freedom Now.’ Unfortunately, that had to be pulled down because the prison authorities considered that as a slogan.”

“But instead he’s got more creative, and out of foil made a sun with rays that go out to a meter wide. It’s arranged so that the sun hits the foil and lights up the whole of the room. So I think that’s wonderful.”

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Journalists' support 'keeps Greste going'

Journalist Peter Greste has been jailed in Egypt since December. His father says colleagues' support keeps his son going.

Monday marked 100 days since Greste and his colleagues were arrested in Cairo. They are charged with collaborating with a terrorist organization, which is the designation the government gives the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Filed under:  Egypt • Journalism • Latest Episode

Former Egypt official touts reconciliation, puts onus on Brotherhood

April 1st, 2014
09:36 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Egypt must reconcile and stamp out violence, Former Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, while putting the onus for that reconciliation on the once-again-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

“The first challenge is the political stability of the country,” he said. “This is a very daunting task because certainly the Muslim Brotherhood, who lost the power, are not willing to come to terms with that loss. And they continue to raise a big fight, using – resorting to violence.”

The man who spearheaded the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsy was the very leader Morsy had appointed to lead the military: Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

El-Sisi has now resigned from the military and declared his candidacy for president; elections are set for May 26.

He was pictured on Monday riding around Cairo on a bicycle, having traded his uniform for a more populist track suit.

“He has opened the door for an inclusive society,” Radwan said.

Many, of course, disagree with that statement – chiefly members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Last week, in one fell swoop, an Egyptian court sentenced 528 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on charges related to violent riots last August.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

Egyptian official urges mass death sentence be put ‘in perspective’

March 25th, 2014
05:02 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

An Egyptian official urged on Tuesday that a death sentence for 528 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood be put “in perspective.”

The people in question were “implicated in acts of sabotage and violent offenses,” Salah Abdel Sadek, chairman of Egypt's State Information Service, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“There is the right to challenge the verdict.”

An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced the defendants on charges related to violent riots in the southern Egyptian city of Minya last August, including the murder of a police officer, the country's official news agency said.

The riots took place after a deadly crackdown by security forces on two large sit-ins in Cairo, where demonstrators were supporting ousted President Mohammed Morsy.

Sadek insisted that the Egyptian judiciary is independent, free from interference of “executive authority.”

“Egypt does not have an independent judiciary”, Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution, and author of “Temptations of Power,” told Amanpour. “It’s a very politicized judiciary.”

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'Unprecedented' oppression in Egypt

Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution tells Christiane Amanpour there is "bloodlust" in Egypt.

“And let’s recall [the judiciary] played a very active role in supporting the military coup on July 3rd [2013]. So we can’t treat Egypt as a normal democratic state, where there’s a separation of powers.”

Hamid called the decision the “largest mass death sentence in modern Egyptian history.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

Journalists call for release of colleagues in Egypt

February 4th, 2014
06:06 PM ET

Journalists worldwide are demanding the release of Al Jazeera staff detained in Egypt for over a month with the campaign #FreeAJStaff.

The White House has also urged Egypt to release imprisoned journalists and academics. "These figures, regardless of affiliation, should be protected and permitted to do their jobs freely in Egypt," White House spokesman told reporters today.

It's a story we have been covering for weeks, and we will continue to do so.


Filed under:  Egypt • Imagine a World

Egypt government suppressing ‘any voice of dissent,’ says targeted academic

January 28th, 2014
02:11 PM ET
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What is going on in Egypt?

What is going on in Egypt? Christiane Amanpour explains, and speaks with NPR Cairo Bureau Chief Leila Fadel.

By Mick Krever, CNN

Three years to the week since Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak was forced from power, the country seems to have come full circle.

As the country’s first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Morsy, faced a Cairo courtroom months after he was forced from power, Egypt’s generals gave their blessing for Field Marshall Abdul Fatah el-Sisi to run for president.

Mubarak’s military-backed rule may, three years later, become el-Sisi’s military rule.

“In order to implement its [roadmap] they are suppressing any voice of dissent, mine included,” Egyptian academic Emad Shahin told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Shahin himself is an exemplary case of the state of Egypt today.

He was accused two weeks ago of espionage and conspiracy to undermine national security, but says he has not seen any concrete charges.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

Amanpour confronts Egyptian businessman over jailing of journalists

January 14th, 2014
03:29 PM ET
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Egypt businessman on the state of Egypt

Naguib Sawiris Egyptian businessman financially backed anti-Morsy protests

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

Egyptian Father says his jailed daughter was ‘raised to speak her mind freely’

December 5th, 2013
03:24 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Few cases exemplify the state of Egypt today like the arrest of Ola Ezzat.

She and 20 other young women and girls – seven of them underage – were at a peaceful, pro-Muslim Brotherhood protest in Alexandria when they were picked up the police.

They were sentenced to 11 years plus one month in prison.

On Thursday, CNN’s Christiane Amanour spoke with Ola’s father, Alaa Eldin Ezzat, from Cairo.

“She is strong,” Ezzat said, whose wife visited their daughter earlier in the day. “She sent a message saying that ‘I will continue what I am doing and I am proud of it.’”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

Egyptian state attempting to stifle all activism and protest, says Human Rights Watch

December 5th, 2013
03:23 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The arrest and sentencing to 11 years in prison of 21 young women at a Muslim Brotherhood protest was designed to send a single message, says Human Rights Watch: “stop protesting.”

“These women were peacefully protesting and have been sentenced to this disproportionately high and crazy sentence,” Heba Morayef, director of the Middle East and North Africa Division for Human Rights Watch, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“To put it into perspective, one of the only police officers sentenced for killing protesters was given three years,” she said. “The message there is that it doesn't matter if they're women; it doesn't matter if they are young – we will sentence protesters.”

Egyptian prosecutors on Thursday laid their first charges under new laws outlawing protest “resisting authorities,” against leading political activist Ahmed Maher.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

Egypt not on a ‘proper path to democracy,’ suggests Egypt deputy PM, who blames Morsy

November 4th, 2013
04:25 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

On the day former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy emerged from four months of military captivity to face trial, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa el-Din implied to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Egypt is not on a “proper path to democracy,” while blaming that state of affairs on Morsy.

Bahaa el-Din said that it was under Morsy’s presidency that “freedoms began to be taken” and “the constitution was no longer upheld.”

“Having said this,” he said, “we need to keep our eyes fixed on not continuing in that road, and as quickly as possible, as strongly as possible, going back to a proper path of democracy.”

The deputy prime minister represents a voice of moderation in the interim government at a time when Egypt has become hyperpolarized, violent, and politically bewildering.

He admitted to Amanpour that compromise had become a “dirty word” in Egypt.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

Removing the black and white from Egyptian struggle

October 23rd, 2013
08:45 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

To read the headlines, Egypt since the ousting of President Mubarak two-and-a-half years ago has been in a hopeless state of constant tumult, divided between Islamists and secularists, the government and the opposition.

A new documentary – “The Square,” a reference to the now-famous Tahrir Square – tries to get beyond that and tell the street-level story of the activists on all sides who have been fighting for change.

“We've been filming in the square – myself and a team of talented filmmakers – for the past three years,” Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

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Filed under:  Egypt • Latest Episode
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