Egypt: Sinai expert journalist sentenced to 10 years in prison

An Egyptian military court Tuesday pressed a ten-year prison sentence against Ismail Alexandrani for allegedly having published military secrets, belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and spreading information that could harm national security.

Alexandrani has been in detention since 2015 following his arrest upon coming back from a professional trip in Germany.

The court, according to his defense lawyer Tarek Abdel Aal, found Alexandrani guilty of the spread of military secrets and belonging to outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Abdel Aal said that his client is also convicted for spreading information that could harm the national security.

Alexandrani had been writing on the Islamic state group (ISIS) in the Sinai and the military operation in the peninsula where the army has been fighting the militant group.

The journalist was arrested in November 2015 following a work trip in Berlin. His wife indicated that Alexandrani had travelled to Germany to lecture on the political situation in the North African country.

The military’s accusation that Alexandrani is member of the Muslim Brotherhood has been rejected by the journalist’s entourage and colleagues. He is rather critic of the banned group.

Alexandrani according to his colleagues and collaborators claim that he became enemy of the state over his critical writings.

The court also sentenced co-defendant Walid Mohareb to 10 years in prison. Abdel Aal told AFP that they would appeal the court decision.

The ruling met with harsh criticism from rights groups and journalism watchdog. Human Right Watch argued that the ruling displays the Egyptian regime’s war against journalists reporting on sensitive issues.

“It’s also a reminder that the government seeks to keep army abuses of Sinai residents away from media scrutiny,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the group’s Middle East director.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based watchdog, also lambasted the verdict. The organization presents Egypt as “the world’s third largest jailer of journalists”.

The Egyptian army is currently conducting a vast military action in Sinai against the Islamic State group. Journalists have been barred from the campaign.

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