Sudan Frees Al Jazeera Journalist Two Days After Arrest

An image of the Sudanse flag.
An image of the Sudanse flag.

 

Sudanese authorities released Al Jazeera television’s Khartoum bureau chief on Tuesday, the Qatar-based network said, two days after security forces arrested him from his home. 

The arrest of Al-Musalami al-Kabbashi was the latest since a military coup three weeks ago and came after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on Saturday to demand a transition to civilian rule.

Kabbashi, a Sudanese citizen, “was released on Tuesday… the military has yet to give a reason for his detention,” the network said.

The editor in chief of the armed forces newspaper,  Ibrahim al-Hory, charged that Al Jazeera had “published unrealistic reports and released old videos and hosted hostile personalities that instigated strife.”

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Al Jazeera has given prominent coverage to the anti-coup demonstrations but has also aired a detailed interview with top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Late Monday, Al Jazeera reported that Kabbashi had been taken to prison despite a prosecutor’s order for his release.

Judicial decisions have been disregarded on several occasions since the coup. Lawyer Enaam Attik told AFP that prosecutors had ordered the release of 50 people arrested during Saturday’s rallies but “police took them to an unknown location”.

The internet has remained largely cut in Sudan despite a court order last week to restore services.

Burhan declared a state of emergency on October 25, ousted the government and detained the civilian leadership.

The army’s power grab has derailed a transition to full civilian rule, sparked international condemnation and provoked regular protests.

Burhan insists the military’s move “was not a coup” but a push to “rectify the course of the transition”.

The anti-coup demonstrations have been met by a deadly crackdown that has left at least 23 people dead. Saturday was the bloodiest day so far with eight people killed, medics said.

Snapchat Blocks Al Jazeera In Saudi Arabia

Snapchat has blocked Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera from its app in Saudi Arabia at the request of Saudi authorities, the image sharing service said Monday, as tensions simmer between the Gulf states.

Saudi authorities have accused Al Jazeera of acting as a mouthpiece for extremist groups, a charge it denies.

Alongside the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Qatar in June, in the worst diplomatic crisis to roil the Gulf in years.

“We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate,” said a spokesman for parent company Snap Inc.

Al Jazeera condemned the blocking as an assault on freedom of expression.

“We find Snapchat’s action to be alarming and worrying,” the broadcaster’s acting director general Mostefa Souag said in a statement.

“This sends a message that regimes and countries can silence any voice or platform they don’t agree with by exerting pressure on the owners of social media platforms.”

Snap Inc. said Saudi authorities had asked it to block Al Jazeera’s account in the kingdom before the weekend, arguing that the broadcaster’s Discover channel violated local laws.

The broadcaster’s website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia for months and authorities shut down its office in the Kingdom when the crisis broke out in June.

So far, Al Jazeera’s Snapchat channel can still be viewed in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

The Saudi-led alliance has issued a list of 13 demands to Qatar, accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with Riyadh’s Shiite rival Tehran.

Doha denies the charges, claiming the blockade is an attack on its sovereignty.

The crisis has entered its fourth month and is showing no sign of ending, analysts say.

Saudi Arabia, with its bulging youth population, is among the world’s top per capita users of social media.

The internet represents a limited space for freedom of expression in the conservative kingdom.

AFP

Flood Displaces Over 90,000 People In Japan

japan-floodingMore than 90,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes in Japan, as widespread flooding and landslides hit the city of Joso, north of the capital, Tokyo.

Helicopter rescue teams have been plucking people from rooftops.

One person has been reported missing in the region, and at least 12 are injured.

The heavy downpour came a day after a tropical storm brought winds of up to 125km/h.

The hardest-hit areas have been Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures.

Japan’s Meterological Agency had put both regions on its highest level of alert.

Footages from Joso in Ibaraki showed people clinging to the rooftops before helicopter rescue teams could safe them.

Entire homes and cars were carried away on the torrent as the Kinugawa river burst its banks after two days of heavy rainfall.

Germany Releases Al Jazeera Journalist, Ahmed Mansour

mansourAl Jazeera has announced the release of its reporters, Ahmed Mansour, held at the Berlin airport in Germany has been released.

Ahmed Mansour, who works for the network’s Arabic-language service, was detained on Saturday as he tried to board a flight from Berlin to Qatar.

It is reported that a court in Cairo, Egypt’s capital, sentenced him to 15 years in prison in absentia last year on torture charges.

Earlier, the German government had said that it could veto an extradition decision from the court.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Martin Schaefer, told a news conference that Germany has repeatedly questioned the rule of law in Egypt.

“Against this background, you will surely understand that there are doubts in the Mansour case.

“I don’t think one can say this loudly enough: Of course, nobody will be extradited from Germany who risks being sentenced to death abroad”, he said.

According to Al Jazeera, Saad Djebbar, one of Mansour’s lawyer, said that while his client was ‘very happy’ about the court’s decision, he was also ‘very sad’ that the Al Jazeera Journalist was detained in the first place.

Another lawyer, Patrick Teubner, said that with the court decision, Mansour could now leave Germany.

Dozens of supporters of Mansour had protested in front of the Berlin court building where he was held.

Mr Mansour, along with two Muslim Brotherhood members and an Islamic preacher, were accused of taking part in the torture of a lawyer in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011, during protests against then President Hosni Mubarak.

Al-Jazeera Journalist Arrested

al-jazeeraA senior journalists working with Al-Jazeera has been arrested in Germany at the request of Egypt.

Ahmed Mansour, who works for the channel’s Arabic-language service, was detained as he tried to board a flight from Berlin to Qatar.

A German police official said Egyptian authorities had issued an international arrest warrant for Mr Mansour.

A court in Egypt’s capital, Cairo sentenced him to 15 years in prison in absentia last year on torture charges.

However, Al-Jazeera says the claims made against Mr Mansour, who has dual British and Egyptian citizenship, are absurd and false.

Egypt accuses Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Qatar-backed Islamist movement that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi removed from power in 2013 when he was army chief and calls a terrorist group.

Both the television channel and the Brotherhood reject the allegations made by Egyptian authorities.

A Cairo court sentenced Mansour, who has dual Egyptian and British citizenship, to 15 years in prison in absentia last year on a charge of torturing a lawyer in 2011 in Tahrir Square, the focus of the uprising that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Mansour said he expected to soon face a judge who would decide whether to extradite him.

Peter Greste In Australia After Release From Egyptian Jail

gresteAfter spending over 400 days in an Egyptian jail, Al-Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, has returned to Brisbane, Australia, following his release from prison.

At a news conference, the journalist described his relief and praised the long campaign to free him and his colleagues.

Greste said, “I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am to be here. This is a moment that I’ve rehearsed in my mind at least 400 times over 400 days.”

Mr Greste and two of his colleagues were arrested in 2013. They were convicted of spreading false news and aiding the banned Muslim brotherhood.

He had been sentenced to seven years on charges rejected by Al Jazeera that included aiding a terrorist group in a case that had attracted widespread attention and criticism of Egypt’s leadership and judiciary.

His colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, remain in prison.

Egypt’s President, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, issued a decree in November 2014 granting him the power to deport foreign defendants convicted or accused of crimes.

“If it’s right for me to be free then it’s right for all of us… I think that Egypt now has an opportunity to show that justice doesn’t depend on your nationality,” Greste said at a Brisbane news conference, flanked by members of his family.

CNN, Al Jazeera Lied About ‘Supposed’ Chibok Girls’ Escape – Badeh

Alex-BadehThe Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, has accused foreign media houses including, the Cable News Network (CNN) and Al Jazeera, of fabricating stories on the abducted Chibok girls during their crew’s visit to Nigeria in May.

Speaking during a workshop on Security/Media Relations in Crisis Management in Abuja, the Air Chief Marshal said “we know Isha Sesay of CNN, (Nima) Elbagir of CNN and another one from Al Jazeera, interviewed the supposed Chibok girls that escaped; they were speaking Hausa and these are girls that were going to write SSCE. Those ones cannot be those Chibok girls” adding, “they didn’t show us their faces so that we will know.

“Certainly those were not the girls that were taken from that school”, he insisted.

Over 200 Chibok girls were abducted from their schools’ dormitory by members of the Boko Haram sect after an attack on the Chibok Community on April 14.

They have not yet been rescued.

The Defence Chief also said that there was no going back on the conviction of the 12 soldiers found guilty of mutiny last month.

“When we took the oath to become soldiers, we took oath to defend Nigeria with everything we have. Your own is to first obey.

“We condemned them to death. We did not make the laws. The National Assembly made the laws and it is there in the books. People are saying no you cannot do that. Why won’t we do it?” he questioned.

According to him, the reactions over the sentencing of the military personnel could force the military to consider holding field court martial in the bush, after which military personnel sentenced would be killed instantly and buried in the bush.

Egypt Government Resigns, Paving Way For Sisi To Seek Presidency

Egypt’s government resigned on Monday, paving the way for Army Chief Field Marshal, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for president of a strategic U.S. ally gripped by political strife.

After the July overthrow of elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and subsequent crackdown on Islamists and liberals with hundreds killed and thousands jailed, critics say Cairo’s military-backed authorities are turning the clock back to the era of autocrat Hosni Mubarak era, when the political elite ruled with an iron fist in alliance with top businessmen.

“(The outgoing government) made every effort to get Egypt out of the narrow tunnel in terms of security, economic pressures and political confusion,” Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a live nationwide speech.

Beblawi, who was tasked by interim President Adly Mansour, with running the government’s affairs until the election, did not give a clear reason for the decision.

But it effectively opened the way for Sisi to run for president since he would first have to leave his post as Defense Minister in any case. “This (government resignation) was done as a step that was needed ahead of Sisi’s announcement that he will run for president,” an Egyptian official said.

He told Reuters that the cabinet had resigned en masse as Sisi did not want to appear to be acting alone.

Government spokesman, Hany Salah said only “this government feels that it did what it had to do in this critical period, and maybe it’s time for a change.”

Sisi has unveiled a political roadmap meant to lead to elections after toppling Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood following mass unrest against his increasingly arbitrary rule.

But promises of democracy have not borne fruit in the biggest Arab nation, where hundreds of thousands of people gathered in 2011 in an army-backed uprising that overthrew Mubarak and raised hopes of a new political landscape.

The presidential vote is expected within months in Egypt, which has great geo-strategic importance due to its peace treaty with Israel and control over the Suez Canal, a vital global shipping lane and the shortest between Asia and Europe.

20 Journalists To Be Tried In Cairo

Egypt’s courts have begun trying twenty journalists, including four foreigners, among them, Al-Jazeera’s Egyptian-Canadian Bureau Chief, Mohamed Adel Fahmy and Australian correspondent, Peter Geste.

They face charges, including aiding a terrorist organisation, as the Muslim brotherhood was designated in December, and endangering national security.

Al-jazeera has said that only nine of those charged are members of staff and they were merely reporting the situation in Egypt.

It has said the allegations are “absurd, baseless and false” and consistently denied aiding the Muslim brotherhood, on which the authorities launched a fierce crackdown after the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi in July.

The interim government and its supporters have accused international news networks of bias in their reporting of human rights abuses against Morsi supporters and secular dissenters.