Egypt court acquits Morsi supporters over protest

Cairo.A court in Egypt has dropped charges against more than 60 supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi, who were arrested last summer.
Cameraman Mohamed Badr had merely been reporting the protest. Net photo.
Cameraman Mohamed Badr had merely been reporting the protest. Net photo.

Cairo.A court in Egypt has dropped charges against more than 60 supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi, who were arrested last summer.

Judges also cleared a cameraman working for the al-Jazeera broadcaster.

The men, most of whom have links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, had been accused of violence during a protest in the capital, Cairo, in July 2013.

They were demonstrating against Mr Morsi’s removal from power by the military that same month.

Egypt’s first freely elected president is currently facing four separate criminal trials on various charges.

Islamists have staged regular protests demanding his reinstatement, but have been met with a heavy crackdown in which hundreds have died.

The interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and arrested thousands of its members since last year.

Media under attack

Cameraman Mohamed Badr and 61 other people were being held over their alleged involvement in violence and rioting during a protest in Ramses Square in central Cairo last July.

Al-Jazeera has rejected the allegations and said Mr Badr was merely reporting the protest.

A lawyer for the broadcaster said the cameraman was not facing any other charges and should be released immediately.

Another al-Jazeera staff member, Abdullah al-Shami, has been in detention since August.

The media has increasingly become a target in the authorities’ crackdown on dissent, the BBC’s Bethany Bell, in Cairo, reports.

Last week, Egyptian prosecutors filed criminal charges against 20 other al-Jazeera journalists, accusing them of conspiring with the Brotherhood, our correspondent says. They include former BBC correspondent Peter Greste who was been held for more than a month with his producers, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

They were arrested on 29 December in Cairo for allegedly holding illegal meetings with the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

In late January, Mr Greste sent a letter from Cairo’s Tora prison, calling the detentions an “attack on the freedom of speech”.

The United Nations has expressed concern about the “increasingly severe clampdown and physical attacks” on journalists and called for the prompt release of all those detained.

 

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