Throwing reporters in jail is worrisome, even if they are from Al-Jazeera.  Did they commit actual crimes, or is it simply an attempt to silence reporting?

Egypt to put 20 journalists on trial on terrorism-related charges

Egypt said 20 Al-Jazeera journalists, including both Egyptians and foreigners, will face trial on terrorism-related charges.

Among them are three journalists employed by Al-Jazeera English, the Qatari-based international news channel. Award-winning Australian correspondent Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian producer Mohammed Fadel Fahmy, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed were arrested on Dec. 29 in a raid on a Cairo hotel room, which the network was using as a temporary bureau. The Egyptian government alleges that 12 of the Al-Jazeera journalists remain at large, while eight are in state custody, including Greste, Fahmy and Baher.

Authorities have not set a date for the trial or released the full list of the defendants’ names. However, in a statement released by the General Prosecutor’s office, the Egyptian defendants have been charged with “crimes of belonging to terrorist organizations violating the law, calling for disrupting the law and preventing state institutions from conducting their affairs, assault on personal liberties of citizens and damaging national unity and social peace.”

The report went on to say: Egypt has become among the most dangerous and difficult places to work for journalists. This cannot be news…especially to CBS reporter Lara Logan.

Since the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has become extremely popular among his countrymen for his aggressive handling of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A video report from CCTV Africa offers some intriguing background:

Based on the handling of Al-Jazeera’s reporters, it looks he may be parlay this approach to become the next president:

Egypt’s top military body, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), has given him the green light to stand for president, in what it says is a response to the “desire of the masses”.

….Field Marshal Sisi himself says he first wants to gauge “public demand” before – as is widely rumoured – stepping down as army chief and announcing his presidential candidacy.

These developments may have contributed to a major snub by John Kerry:

In the short section of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address that touched on foreign policy, President Barack Obama noted that the U.S. was “supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy,” but did not include Egypt in his list of such nations.

Last Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry also skipped over Egypt in a speech delivered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in what one New York Times columnist described as “a glaring omission.

On a more Egyptological note for history buffs like myself: The remains of an ancient port have just been uncovered near the Pyramids of Giza:

They were in use while the pyramids were being built about 4,500 years ago….The archaeologists have been excavating a city near the Giza Pyramids that dates mainly to the reign of the pharaoh Menkaure, who built the last pyramid at Giza. Also near the pyramids they have been excavating a town, located close to a monument dedicated to Queen Khentkawes, possibly a daughter of Menkaure. The barracks are located at the city, while a newly discovered basin, that may be part of a harbor, is located by the Khentkawes town.

As the news and the discovery reveal, Egypt is never entirely what it seems.

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