February 9th, 2014
01:01 PM ET

Christiane Amanpour on Egypt’s crackdown on journalists

Above: With Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt and new charges that 20 journalists have aided terrorists, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour explains why people everywhere should be outraged.

(Last Tuesday, Amanpour covered the situation on her CNN International program.)

Here's the transcript of her comments on "Reliable Sources:"

STELTER: The head of Al Jazeera English says that this current situation is a threat to journalism itself. Do you agree it's that serious?

AMANPOUR: I really do agree. I mean, look, we have an unprecedented number of journalists in Egypt, foreign and domestic, who have been charged with - get this - terrorism. I mean, give me a break. It is the last refuge of an authoritarian dictatorial regime, whether it's in Egypt or wherever it is, who simply doesn't want the truth told.

And what's happening in Egypt is that journalists, whether they be from Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC or, indeed, Egyptian journalists, are being forced into partisan positions. If you do not follow slavishly the military government line in Egypt, you are deemed a terrorist.

If you try to be objective in your coverage, you are deemed a terrorist. I mean, it is terrible what's happening there. It is silencing the truth.

STELTER: Well, to hear charges of aiding terrorists you know, in Egypt, that must have a chilling effect on the journalists who are still there trying to cover that story.

AMANPOUR: Precisely, and that's why you've seen very little objective, truthful journalism coming out of there. As I said, people are being forced into camps. I said two camps, but, actually, it's really one camp right now. People are being forced to take sides in order to be safe and not to go to prison. And, wherever you look, journalists are in the cross-hairs more than I have ever experienced, ever in my career.

STELTER: For viewers at home who don't think about this stuff all the time, why does it matter that the journalists are in the cross-hairs?

AMANPOUR: Well, it matters a lot because, although we may be viewed as pesky, unwelcome intruders, whether in - in Western democracies or in dictatorships, we are the people who go out there with a mission to tell the truth. It is actually as simple as that. We are the people who go out there and uncover corruption, uncover injustice, and try to tell the world what's going on. We are the eyes and ears, the eyewitnesses to what's going on in the world at the time.

STELTER: One of the Al Jazeera journalists who is in prison right now in Egypt - he used to work here at CNN, Mohamed Fahmy - did you ever cross paths with him?

AMANPOUR: Yes, I did. He's done a lot of producing work for me, for my program, as well as when I was on the ground - on the ground in Egypt.

And again, for 38 days, he was held in jail, along with some of the others, and was not charged - no access to family or lawyers. He apparently has an injury in his shoulder, and he has not been able to even have any medical care.

I mean, by any standards, this is a violation of every law and of all decency. And this is just a journalist. It is not somebody who's out there with a weapon other than his camera and his pencil. And it is just utterly unacceptable, and these people must be released. And our governments, particularly those who have major dealings with Egypt and upon whom Egypt relies, ought to be reading the Egyptian authorities the riot act over this.

STELTER: Christiane, thank you for putting the spotlight on this for us.

AMANPOUR: Thanks, Brian. Thank you.

Filed under: Al Jazeera • Blog • Egypt • Reliable Sources
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