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Rights group denounces trial of Egyptian reporters

CAIRO -- A rights group on Thursday denounced Egypt's stand on freedom of expression as 20 employees of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network went on trial accused of membership in a terrorist organization and also for aiding it.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch described as “politicized” the charges against the Al-Jazeera employees, who include acting chief of bureau Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian, correspondent Peter Greste, an Australian and Egyptian Baher Mohamed.

“Egyptian authorities in recent months have demonstrated almost zero tolerance for any form of dissent, arresting and prosecuting journalists, demonstrators, and academics for peacefully expressing their views,” said a statement by Human Rights Watch.

“Journalists should not have to risk years in an Egyptian prison for doing their job,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. He added their prosecution “shows how fast the space for dissent in Egypt is evaporating.”

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