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Disturbing camera phone video shows Western journalists detained in Egypt

Egypt's Tahrir TV aired this video on Sunday night showing two foreign journalists with Al Jazeera English who have been detained without trial for over a month. The 22-minute video, apparently taken with a camera phone, shows the journalists' having their hotel room searched and being interrogated by authorities.

The journalists, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste, have been held in solitary confinement for weeks despite calls for their release by their governments and the United Nations. The Egyptian government has aggressively targeted journalists in recent weeks, particularly those from Al Jazeera, who are often portrayed as clandestine allies of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two minutes in, the video shows Fahmy talking to authorities with a cast around his arm and shoulder. He answers hostile questions about why they were working out of a hotel (the Egyptian government, in trumpeting their case, has referred to these journalists as "the Marriott cell," akin to a terrorist cell). He appears in pain from his shoulder, which his family says has gone untreated since it was broken a month ago.

The video's over-the-top melodrama can appear bizarre or even silly – music from the comic book action movie "Thor: The Dark World" plays throughout – but is of a piece with the Egyptian government's effort to depict not just the Brotherhood but even journalists who air its perspective as enemies of the state. Well over a dozen Al Jazeera journalists are currently being held, some accused of supporting or even joining a terrorist group.

"I've been caught in the middle of a political struggle that is not my own," Greste wrote in a letter to his parents from solitary confinement. "The state will not tolerate hearing from the Muslim Brotherhood or any other critical voices."



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Doug Wong · February 2, 2014

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