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Al Jazeera America Marks Anniversary of Egypt Arrests with ‘Journalism Is Not a Crime’ Special

Al Jazeera America will mark the one-year anniversary of the arrest of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt with an hourlong special, “Journalism Is Not a Crime,” set to air Dec. 29.

Australian correspondent Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were detained in Egypt on Dec. 29, 2013, charged with spreading false news deemed damaging to the Egyptian state. Greste and Fahmy have since been sentenced to seven years in prison, with Mohamed sentenced to 10. The three will appear in court on Jan. 1 to appeal their sentences.

The special, to be hosted by primetime anchor John Seigenthaler, will address the dangers faced by journalists reporting from abroad, including the recent rise in reporter deaths and imprisonment. The victims’ stories will be discussed in depth, along with the stories of other journalists who have undergone similar hardships. The special will also feature commentary by Jon Stewart, Bob Simon, Christiane Amanpour and Dan Rather.

Al Jazeera America will also use the program as a platform for promoting social-media hashtags #ThisYear and #FreeAJStaff, which aim to raise awareness and fuel conversation regarding the three incarcerated journalists. In addition, supporters can sign a petition on the network’s website.

Word of the special comes the same day that the Associated Press reported that Al Jazeera shut down the Egyptian channel in its news network in an effort to ease the strained relations between Egypt and Qatar, the nation that bankrolls Al Jazeera’s global news operations. Al Jazeera said its coverage of Egypt would be added to a regional channel, according to the AP.

(Pictured front row: Al Jazeera America president Kate O’Brian, CEO Ehab Al Shihabi and senior VP David Doss join the protest in AJA’s New York City newsroom.)

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