Egypt to try Morsi for handing Qatar national security docs

Morsi - European External Action Services-Flickr

Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi is going to be tried on charges of handing national security documents to Qatar in exchange for US$1 million, the country’s state prosecutor has announced.

Morsi is being charged along with 10 co-defendants – including Al Jazeera Arabic’s Director of News, Ibrahim Helal.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Doha-based broadcaster said:

“Any information Al Jazeera receives is handled with the highest standard of journalistic ethics. We do not therefore comment on sources, or pass information to governments.”

According to news wire AFP, Egypt’s prosecutor issued a statement yesterday in which he said Morsi and the 10 co-defendants will go on trial for having “handed over to Qatari intelligence documents linked to national security … in exchange for one million dollars (772,000 euros).”

Helal - Al Jazeera - Linkedin

Linkedin

Ibrahim Helal is Al Jazeera Arabic's news director.

The prosecutor went on to describe the case as “the biggest act of treason carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood against the country.” In March this year, Egypt’s Interior Ministry accused Morsi’s ex-Secretary – Amin El-Serafi – of giving “extremely sensitive documents concerning the army, its deployment and weaponry” to an Al Jazeera chief editor and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. No date for the trial has yet been set.

Charges against Morsi

Morsi already faces the death penalty if convicted of charges in cases relating to several other pending trials. One case involves the killing of protesters during his one-year presidency, while in another he is accused of conspiring with foreign powers including Iran to destabilize Egypt. A third relates to a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising that led to former president Hosni Mubarak being deposed. When Morsi was overthrown in July 2013, Egypt’s military rulers outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, whose supporters have been subjected to a crackdown by the authorities. Human rights activists say this has led to 1,400 people killed and 16,000 others detained. Additionally, relations between Qatar and Egypt have soured, due to Qatar’s links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Jazeera journalists

In June, three Al Jazeera English journalists were given prison sentences after being convicted of charges relating to spreading false news and supporting the Islamist movement.

AJ three Twitter

Al Jazeera Turk/Twitter

Correspondent Peter Greste and producer Mohamed Fahmy were each jailed for seven years, while their producer colleague Baher Mohamed was handed an additional three years for possession of ammunition, for a total sentence 10 years.

Seven other Al Jazeera journalists who were tried in absentia were given 10-year prison sentences.

The three journalists – whose lawyers filed an appeal of their convictions late last month – have now been behind bars for a total of 253 days. Al Jazeera has maintained the innocence of their staff throughout.

Internationally, journalists continue to call for the freedom of their peers, through social media, using the hashtag #FreeAJStaff.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper was one of many news organizations that marked the 250 days with a photograph of their newsroom staff, with mouths gagged and carrying signs bearing the slogan.

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