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World reacts to the criminalization of journalism in Egypt


The imprisonment of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt has grasped global attention, not only from journalists who are standing up for their colleagues, but also from their audiences who are demanding the freedom of expression.

News teams have stepped away from their laptops, turned their cameras off, closed their notebooks, and have taken to social media to demand the Egyptian government #FreeAJStaff, racking up nearly 130,000 tweets. Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous said, "What this ruling means is that in Egypt journalism is a crime."

Human rights organizations have also voiced concerns about this verdict. Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of the journalists:

Amnesty International fears that the charges may be an attempt to punish the journalists for Al Jazeera’s editorial line. The channel has been accused of being biased towards the now banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Detained since December 29, 2013, Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were sentenced yesterday to seven years in jail under charges of aiding a terrorist organization. Baher Mohamed will serve an additional three years for possessing a bullet case.

This is the latest in a string of legal action punishing the press. This week, the Egyptian court also sentenced local journalist Bishoy Armia to five years in prison for "inciting sectarian strife” and “depicting Christians as suffering from sectarian oppression." A week before, Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy was released after a 147-day hunger strike and nearly a year in prison with no charge. Earlier this year, an American journalist and Arabic translator was arrested, suspected of belonging to a foreign spy ring. Although he was released, he was beaten repeatedly for allegedly working with a Sinai-based armed group.

Meanwhile, much of Egyptian media has hardly bothered to cover the verdict. Those outlets that have covered it, showed no mercy for the prisoners, denouncing them as members of the Muslim Brotherhood and defending the country for being "a victim of an international media conspiracy," according to independent Egyptian online newspaper Mada Masr.

The BBC compiled a response roundup in the video below:

Whether response has been in support or against the verdict, this Taiwanese Next Media Animation video depicts the situation in a way that only this outlet could, featuring "a court run by kangaroos, and a cameo from Gotye," according to Poynter.

And last but not least, after criticizing Egyptian President Abdelfattah el-Sisi for killing political satire by forcing his counterpart Bassem Youssef to shut down his show, Jon Stewart has "thanked" el-Sisi for "bringing the hammer down on terror-journalists" in a bogus trial where the court was too lazy to even forge evidence:

Surveillance State

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CIA joins Twitter – and its first tweet may surprise you


Who says the CIA doesn't have a sense of humor? Well, probably quite a few people -- but the US spy agency's first-ever tweet represents one of the best Twitter entrances since Hillary Clinton showed up on the social media network describing herself as "wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD..."

John Little has more on the CIA's battle with its own public perception over at Blogs of War.

Update, 3:44pm: Not surprisingly, some people aren't very amused by the CIA's post.

But that's nothing compared with the Amnesty International official quoted by Newser who, after first mentioning "use of torture and extrajudicial executions," said:

"[The CIA] should put as least as much effort into following the law as they do into social media."
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Surveillance State

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Edward Snowden: The US government is licking our balls and taking pictures


In a keynote appearance at the Personal Democracy Forum to mark the first anniversary of his NSA leaks being made public, Edward Snowden chose an odd metaphor to describe the US government's data collection methods.

Quoted in the Village Voice blog Runnin' Scared, Snowden's interviewer at the event John Perry Barlow (co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) likened government surveillance to an old joke:

"Why do animals lick their genitals? Because they can. We have reached the point where something very similar applies to governments, except for the fact that they are not licking their own..."

To which Snowden added:

"They're licking ours -- and they're taking pictures."

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Stewart on Egyptian censorship: ‘Why get rid of injury when you can get rid of insult?’


Comedian Jon Stewart praised Bassem Youssef, a popular satirist who is said to be Stewart's counterpart in Egypt, when Youssef announced he is cancelling his show El Bernameg.

Pulling the plug after a forced hiatus in May due to his comedy's disruptive nature and its potential influence on the presidential election, and less than a week after former defense minister Abdelfattah el-Sisi came into power, it's clear his politically charged comedy is not welcome by the country's leadership.

“The present climate in Egypt is not suitable for a political satire program," he said. “I’m tired of struggling and fearing for my personal and my family’s safety and that of the people around me.”

Stewart, who has hosted Youssef and has appeared on his show, congratulated Youssef and his team for their work:

"Bassem Youssef and his team did a tremendous show under harrowing conditions and while they're not on the air for now, their work will continue to inspire us all on this show."


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Can Google ever really forget? The difficulties of disappearing in the internet age


Google has announced plans to comply with a European Court ruling to delete certain "embarrassing" search listings. But, as Channel 4 News found out, making links go away isn't really that easy.

Update June 2: The original video posted has been deleted from YouTube, but here's International Business Times' analysis on what the EU-Google ruling means:

And News Loop on how the "right to be forgotten" will work in practice:

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