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Egypt Cautions Foreign Journalists After ‘Inaccurate’ Clooney Report

Egypt Cautions Foreign Journalists After ‘Inaccurate’ Clooney Report

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Egypt’s Foreign Ministry urged on Monday foreign journalists operating in the country to “exercise caution, fact-check circulating information and confirm it through official sources before publishing.”

The ministry said in a statement it has recently noticed that some certified foreign journalists have “repeatedly … published inaccurate news and statements which sometimes lack truth and credibility.” It added that local media outlets report such news without confirming it.

British newspaper the Guardian published on Friday an interview with international lawyer Amal Clooney where she reportedly accused Egyptian officials of warning her that she risked arrest after she addressed flaws in Egypt’s judicial system.

Clooney, who now internationally represents one of three journalists from the Qatari news network al-Jazeera sentenced to prison in June for charges including spreading false news, was working with the International Bar Association in early 2014 on a report on Egypt’s judiciary.

The human rights barrister clarified in an opinion piece published on American online news website the Huffington Post on Sunday that it was “experts in Egyptian affairs” who warned that she risked arrest if she and her colleagues launched the said report in Cairo.

Clooney stressed that the incident took place long before she took over the case of jailed Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy and was therefore not related to it.

The Guardian later updated its interview to include a quote from Egypt’s Interior Ministry spokesman denying that Clooney was “listed for arrest”.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty stressed that any official correction or response to published news must occupy the same size and place of the “incorrect” news story.

A criminal court sentenced Australian award-winning journalist Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian former BBC producer Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed to seven years in prison in June 2013 on charges of defaming Egypt and spreading false news. Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for arms possession.

The sentences have sparked worldwide condemnation, as several states and international bodies saw them as a breach of press and media freedoms.

Egypt’s Court of Cassation ordered a retrial on Thursday.

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Aswat Masriya is a Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored website that covers Egypt's transition to democracy. en.aswatmasriya.com

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