Advanced Escapology

On the first day of 2015 a retrial was ordered for the Al Jazeera journalists who have been jailed in Egypt since December 2013. I’ve been thinking about how and why.
To refresh your memory, the three were part of a larger group of Al Jazeera journalists, handlers and affiliates who were indicted during a crackdown of the Egyptian military on the Muslim Brotherhood and their perceived supporters. Most left the country before they could be arrested. After elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi started showing autocratic tendencies, his period in office was ended in July 2013 by protests and a coup by the military. They took back the power they lost when former president Mubarak was ousted by mass protests in 2011. Soon after their return to power, they started to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al Jazeera is funded by the state of Qatar. While they don’t critisize Qatar very often, they are still a pretty balanced news source, according to me and many other journalists and media specialists. But the Qatari governing party/group is a political sibling and staunch ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera soon became a target, and their journalists were arrested or made to leave the country. Last month, after a year of persecution, Al Jazeera turned it’s channel in Egypt off.
The problem the new/old Egyptian leaders have, is that two of the three journalists who were actually jailed, are westerners (one white, one Arab). That may sound cynical, but I think the protests by Western citizens would have been a lot less vehement if this weren’t the case. Even if Western countries regard jailing people for journalism as very bad, Turkey does it too¬†and the protests in the West aren’t nearly as massive. In addition to popular protests, governments are probably using their leverage behind closed doors to get the three freed. Egypt is dependent on Western aid, especially from America, especially military aid.
But what they can’t do is loose face and just set the trio free. That would be the same as admitting the first trial was politically motivated in the first place. So, instead of granting the appeal that served on the first of January, a retrial was ordered. Will that mean that they’ll be acquitted? Maybe. More likely their sentences will be reduced to the time they’ve already done. That way, Egypt’s leaders can get out of the West’s (very) bad books, and the journalists can get home to their families. And Al Jazeera will still be out of Egypt.

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