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Greste family appeals for journalist’s release as President Sisi suggests pardon

Greste family appeals for journalist’s release as President Sisi suggests pardon
November 25th, 2014
12:44 PM ET

Peter Greste has been in an Egyptian jail since he was arrested along with two other al Jazeera journalists in December 2013.

In June, he, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were sentenced to seven years behind bars after being convicted of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government now considers a terrorist organization. They steadfastly refuted the charges.

Last week, the prospect that they could be released from prison was raised when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told France 24 that he was considering a pardon for the journalists.

On the heels of that news, Greste’s grieving parents sent this statement exclusively to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour:

We welcome any news and changes of attitude that might lead to Peter being released from prison. However, there is uncertainty and lack of clarity in the latest laws relating to foreign prisoner repatriation. Therefore, we are patiently moderating our expectations.

Nevertheless, two things are very clear.

1. Peter has been punished for merely practicing good and responsible journalism. He has not wronged anyone. None of his stories has been discredited. There is no credible evidence against him.

2. Peter was not, will not nor can be a threat to Egypt’s security or national interest. He was in Cairo for a three week appointment. He has no vested interest in Egyptian politics. He did not speak any Arabic. He is not a Moslem. He did not know his work colleagues prior to his arrival.

A side note – Amanpour will be hosting the 2014 International Press Freedom Awards, presented by the Committee to Protect Journalists. You can view their work here.

Filed under:  Egypt

Egypt security forces wanted to ‘simply mow down demonstrators,’ says Human Rights Watch

August 13th, 2014
03:22 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Egyptian security forces systematically fired on largely peaceful Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators during the worst spate of violence in the aftermath of President Mohamed Morsy’s removal from power, Human Rights Watch said in a damning new report this week.

“The broad accounts that we received largely corroborated each other, and told a story not of a careful effort to deal with the specific threat of violence, but rather a broad effort to simply mow down demonstrators,” Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.

His organization says the killings of more than 800 people at Raba’a Square last August likely amount to crimes against humanity. Human Rights Watch calls it a premeditated attack equal to, or worse than, China’s Tiananmen Square killings.


Filed under:  Egypt • Latest Episode

'Enough is enough,' says wife of former Morsy aide jailed in Egypt

July 1st, 2014
01:43 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

Sarah Attia moved to Toronto to offer her family security, after her husband – Khaled Al-Qazzaz – was imprisoned following the military takeover in Egypt almost a year ago. He vanished among many others close to the Morsy government.

Until recently, the international community has remained largely silent but a letter smuggled out of an Egyptian jail and published by the New York Times has enabled Al-Qazzaz to question the Egyptian military and the world.

Attia talked to Amanpour from Canada and told her that she is haunted by fears of what the article could mean for her husband.

"I've been waking up every day since this letter was published, really worrying what could happen to him next."

Though she now lives in fear, there came a point when Attia and her husband could no longer stay silent.

"We all reached a point where we said enough is enough - we can not sit down and do nothing anymore. Khaled has been behind bars in Egypt's worst prisons for almost a year now."

Sarah and Khaled have four young children. Amanpour asked what they think about why their father was imprisoned.

"They know that their father was doing a good thing," said Attia. "He used to tell them that I'm working on making Egypt a better place."

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

Egyptian women's rights activist Hania Moheeb: 'Sisi owes a lot to Egyptian Women'

June 10th, 2014
04:13 PM ET

By Henry Hullah 

Today, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered his interior minister to fight sexual harassment after several women were attacked during his inauguration celebrations. But will el-Sisi's sentiment make a difference?

"Definitely", says Hania Moheeb a prominent activist for Women's rights in Egypt and who is herself a victim of sexual harassment.

"President Sisi owes a lot to Egyptian women who lined up to vote for him."

"I was happy that he spoke about the issue...I think that if he has the will and declared that he has the will then something will happen."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode • Women's Rights

‘We are not going to elect a dictator,’ says former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa

May 26th, 2014
03:06 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Egypt is not “going to elect a dictator,” Former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday as Egyptians went to the polls.

Former Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expected to win the presidency.

“We are not going to elect a dictator,” Moussa said. “We are going to elect a president under the stipulations of a constitution.”

His comments came in response to a statement by el-Sisi’s sole opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, that if elected he would release “all the innocent people who were convicted according to this unconstitutional law” – referring to a controversial demonstration law enacted last year.

“He said I am going to release all innocent people, meaning that he's not going to release the non-innocent people,” Moussa said. “And who determined that? Only the courts can determine that.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

‘Clearly’ Russia’s economy has suffered, IMF chief Christine Lagarde says

May 1st, 2014
12:32 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

There have “clearly” been consequences for the Russian economy because of the crisis in Ukraine, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

The IMF said Wednesday that the Russian economy was in recession, and is expected to grow by only 0.2% in 2014.

“If you look at the monetary policy, if you look at the capital flows, if you look at their own forecast, there have been consequences on the Russian economy as a result of the geopolitical situation, the uncertainty, and the sanctions that have been decided,” Lagarde told Amanpour.

In a key sign of international support for Ukraine, the International Monetary Fund approved a $17.1 billion bailout for the country on Thursday.

The bailout, Lagarde, said, is “obviously not without risk, but it's a necessity to respond to a member's request.”


Filed under:  China • Christiane Amanpour • Economy • Egypt • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

‘Mission impossible’: Meet Hamdeen Sabahi, the only man challenging El-Sisi for Egypt’s presidency

April 30th, 2014
02:57 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

It’s ‘mission impossible,’ Egypt style.

Egyptians will go to the polls next month to elect a new president, but the election of former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seems all but assured.

There is only one man who is taking on the task of challenging el-Sisi: Hamdeen Sabahi.

“Our Egyptian people [are] used [to] accomplishing mission impossible,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour through an interpreter on Wednesday.

“We did that on January 25th and on June 30th. And my mission seems to some impossible like the two others I mentioned.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode

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.”


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.


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.


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.”


'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.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt • Latest Episode
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