An Egyptian court has sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to between seven and 10 years in prison. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were convicted on terrorism charges. These include “spreading false news” in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a “terrorist group.” The three have been jailed since December in a case that has stoked international outrage. In a statement, Al Jazeera said the verdict defied “logic, sense, and any semblance of justice.”
As the sentence of the three Al Jazeera journalists was read today, one of the three journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, yelled out: “Where’s John Kerry?” — a reference to the secretary of state’s surprise visit to Egypt just one day before. Kerry was in Cairo to help restore U.S. ties with the Egyptian government nearly one year after a military coup. Kerry held talks with new President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former Egyptian general who led the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last July. The Obama administration partially suspended aid to Egypt but has avoided a full cutoff by refusing to deem Morsi’s ouster a “coup.” At a news conference in Cairo, Kerry said he expects a full resumption of U.S. military aid in the coming months, beginning with around $575 million already released in the last 10 days. Kerry said Egypt will soon receive a long-delayed shipment of military helicopters.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “Those Apaches are focused on the issue of terrorism, and they will be used in a place where Egypt has been working very, very hard, in concert with Israel and others and with us, in order to push back against these terrorist activities.”
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke one day after Egyptian forces broke up a march against an anti-protest law that bars unsanctioned demonstrations. Dozens of people were arrested as police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Solidarity rallies were also held in eight cities worldwide.
Secretary of State John Kerry is the highest-level U.S. official to visit Egypt since Mohamed Morsi’s ouster last July. Kerry said he raised the Al Jazeera journalists’ case with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and also the mass trials that have brought death sentences for hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. On Saturday, an Egyptian court confirmed the death sentences of nearly 200 prisoners, including the Brotherhood’s general guide, Mohammed Badie.
Following his visit to Egypt, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Baghdad today for talks with the embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other political leaders. Ahead of his arrival, Kerry signaled the Obama administration is prepared to drop support for Maliki, calling for leadership “prepared to represent all of Iraq.”
Secretary of State John Kerry: “We will help Iraqis to complete this transition if they choose it. If they want, they have an opportunity to choose leadership that can represent all of Iraq, a unity government that brings people together and focus on ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]. And I am convinced that they will do so, not just with our help, but with the help of almost every country in the region, as well as others in the world who will always stand up against the tyranny of this kind of terrorist activity.”
Previous reports have claimed the White House has conditioned military support for the Iraqi government on Maliki’s resignation. Kerry’s comments follow reports the White House has conditioned military support for the Iraqi government on Maliki’s resignation. Kerry’s visit to Baghdad comes as Sunni militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have captured more territory. Over the weekend, ISIS militants seized three border crossings with Syria and Jordan, as well as four nearby towns.
An Iraqi government airstrike has reportedly killed at least seven civilians and wounded 12 others in the ISIS-held Tikrit. Residents say army helicopters fired on civilian cars lined up at a gas station. The Iraqi government is claiming it only killed insurgents. We will have more on Iraq later in the broadcast.
Israeli forces have killed two more Palestinians in a continued crackdown over the kidnapping of three teenagers. Two Palestinians were shot dead on Sunday, including one man in Nablus who had allegedly thrown rocks at Israeli troops. Demonstrators also confronted Palestinian Authority forces in Ramallah, asking them for protection against Israeli raids. At least four Palestinians have been killed and 330 have been detained since the teens were kidnapped earlier this month while hitchhiking from a Jewish settlement. No group has claimed responsibility, but the Israeli government has blamed Hamas.
U.S. activists are hailing what is being called a major milestone for the global campaign to boycott and divest from Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. At its general convention on Friday, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to divest from three companies it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian land. The companies are Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard. We will have more on this story after headlines.
New figures show the number of refugees is at its highest level since after World War II. The United Nations says more than 51 million people are displaced worldwide, half of them children. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres unveiled the figures on Friday.
António Guterres, U.N. high commissioner for refugees: “If we have for the first time since the Second World War more than 50 million people displaced by war or by persecution, it’s because we are witnessing a multiplication of new conflicts in the world. And the global conflict generates global displacement. And at the same time, old conflicts seem never to die.”
Syrians accounted for the bulk of the world’s 2.5 million new refugees last year.
The Obama administration is responding to the surge in child migrants with increased detention and speedier deportations. Thousands of children are being held in U.S. detention centers after fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. The New York Times reports the White House plans to open additional detention facilities and fast-track immigration trials to allow for quicker deportation. Tracking devices such as ankle bracelets will be deployed more widely to monitor immigrants set to be deported. Immigration officers and judges will be assigned on an emergency basis to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where most of the crossings happen. More than 47,000 unaccompanied children have been caught at the U.S. border since October. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden met with leaders from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to discuss the migrant crisis. Biden unveiled new funding of $255 million for repatriation programs and efforts to tackle gang violence in Central America.
The freed American prisoner of war, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, has been released from a military hospital to begin outpatient care. The Army says Bergdahl has been transferred to a military base in Texas where he will continue his recovery from five years in Taliban captivity.
Hundreds of people rallied in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday to protest a spate of deadly police shootings. Demonstrators marched through the streets carrying fake tombstones bearing the names of 26 people shot dead by police since 2010. A recent Justice Department report found a pattern of excessive force in those killings. Federally mandated reforms are expected in the coming weeks.
Activists in Detroit have appealed to the United Nations over the city’s move to shut off the water of thousands of residents. The Detroit water authority says half of its 323,000 accounts are delinquent. It has begun turning off the taps of those who do not pay bills that total above $150 or that are 60 days late. The Detroit water authority carries an estimated $5 billion in debt and has been the subject of privatization talks. In a submission to the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, activists say Detroit is trying to push through a private takeover of its water system at the expense of basic rights. The group Food & Water Watch said: “By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water.”
A man who allegedly threatened to kill the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has been arrested in New York. CAIR, the largest Muslim civil rights group in the United States, says Bernhard Laufer sent death threats to director Nihad Awad and other staff. Laufer was charged with attempted murder last year for allegedly stabbing a Muslim at a New York mosque. CAIR said: “This is yet another incident demonstrating the actual, imminent harm that can result from Islamophobia.”
An Episcopal chaplain has made history as the first transgender priest to preach at the historic National Cathedral in Washington. Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge delivered a sermon as part of events marking LGBT pride month.
Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge: “I am moved by how our decisions are calling us into a deeper awareness of the mystery of the human person, for at the end of the day, to respect the dignity of every human being, as we promise in our baptismal covenant, is to actively create space for the unfolding of our lifelong growth as members of Christ’s body.”