Egyptian authorities have found an Al Jazeera producer guilty of “damaging the country’s interests” and possessing fabricated video material that would damage Egypt’s reputation, with intent to broadcast it.
Howayda Taha was arrested Jan. 8 in Cairo airport after tapes containing re-enactments of torture by the Egyptian police were discovered in her luggage. She had been preparing a show exposing the practice using testimonies given to her by purported Egyptian victims.
Taha, who has been out on bail since her arrest and was not present as the May 2 verdict was read, has been sentenced to serve six months in jail and a fine of $2,370. The Egyptian producer, who now lives in Qatar, would have to return to Egypt to file an appeal. Al Jazeera execs have said they will support Taha in her efforts to appeal the sentence.
“We are outraged by this conviction, which confirms the fears we have repeatedly voiced since the start of the year,” read a statement from Reporters Without Borders. “Egypt has taken a dangerous road. The media and the Internet are now both under surveillance and are being censored with increasing openness. The authorities targeted Taha because she wanted to tackle a difficult but important issue, human rights violations in Egyptian prisons.”