Al Jazeera America said it marks the one-year anniversary of the arrest and wrongful incarceration of the network’s journalists – Australian correspondent Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Bureau Chief Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed -- with Journalism Is Not A Crime, an hour-long special tonight, Monday, Dec. 29, at 9 p.m. ET, with encores at midnight and 4 a.m. ET.
Hosted by primetime anchor John Seigenthaler, the special examines the state of journalism around the world and the increase in reporter deaths and imprisonment in the last several years. On Dec. 29, 2013, three Al Jazeera journalists were detained in Egypt on the charge of spreading false news deemed damaging to the Egyptian state. In June 2014, Fahmy and Greste were sentenced to seven years and Baher Mohamed to 10 years without a shred of evidence,per the network. The journalists will appeal their sentence before the Egyptian court on Jan. 1, 2015.
The special features an interview with Peter Greste’s brother via Skype and the following stories from Al Jazeera America’s correspondents:
- Paul Beban looks at what happened to the AJE journalists and where things stand now.
- Ali Velshi, Stephanie Sy and Randall Pinkston take a deeper look at each man’s personal story.
- Nick Schifrin looks at the Geopolitical climate that has led to tougher treatment of journalists, concentrating on China, Syria, Iran and Egypt.
- Ash-Har Quarashi looks at the U.S. and why freedom of the press is unevenly protected.
- Roxana Saberi reports the personal stories of other global journalists who’ve experienced hostile regimes including capture and the threat of violence.
- Al Jazeera English’s Sue Turton discusses her ten-year sentence and how she is “wanted” in Egypt after being convicted in absentia.
- Excerpts from an interviews with Jon Stewart and Abdullah Elshamy, Al Jazeera’s reporter who was freed earlier this year after a hunger strike, opinions from Bob Simon, Christiane Amanpour and Dan Rather (all recorded earlier).
Al Jazeera America also is trying to raise awareness through digital campaigns, including an online petition at http://alj.am/AJPetition and tweets using the hashtags #freeajstaff and #thisyear. A promo video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7UQbl-9nO0.
Leading up to the special, Al Jazeera America newscasts throughout the day will feature stories highlighting the challenges that journalists face. The network will also present the documentary Killing the Messenger: The Deadly Cost of News at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET. It features journalists reporting from Mexico, Russia, and conflict zones, telling personal stories of kidnapping, intimidation, and beatings.
On Thursday, Dec. 18, President Barack Obama raised the cases of the Al Jazeera journalists and peaceful civil society activists. He continues to urge the Egyptian government to respect the freedom of the press and uphold the rule of law, which is crucial to Egypt’s long-term stability.