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Egypt: Journalists appear before military court

Two Egyptian journalists will stand trial before a military court Monday on charges of leaking an audio recording of an interview with Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

Monday's trial is the first trial for civilians before military courts since the ratification of the new constitution in January 2014.

Article 204 of the 2014 constitution stipulates: "Civilians cannot stand trial before military courts except for crimes that represent a direct assault against military facilities, military barracks, or whatever falls under their authority; stipulated military or border zones; its equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, military secrets, public funds or military factories; crimes related to conscription; or crimes that represent a direct assault against its officers or personnel because of the performance of their duties."

The Northern Cairo Military Prosecution referred on Sunday founding member of Rassd News Network (RNN) Amr Salama Al-Qazzaz and its social media director Islam Al-Homsi to military tribunal on charges of "attempting to insult the armed forces" because of audio recordings of an interview with AL-Sisi, leaked exclusively to the popular citizen journalism network. The leaks included embarrassing remarks by the minister of defence and coup leader Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, where he asked the journalist to launch a campaign to perpetuate his position in the new constitution as defense minister if he fails to get elected as president, which signaled feelings of insecurity and fear of future prosecution.

RNN broadcast weakly segments of the interview, attracting millions of views worldwide. The army did not officially respond to the leaks.

Al-Homsi is a senior student at Ain Shams University, majoring in Business Administration. He has been arrested on November 18 on his way back from college, and held captive for two weeks at the Military Intelligence headquarters, then referred to Tora prison.

On November 12, 2013, military intelligence officers broke into the house of Amr Al-Qazzaz, destroyed his furniture, and stole all his valuable belongings. He has been transported to the headquarters of the military intelligence, where he was severely tortured. Al-Qazzaz has also been moved to Tora prison two weeks following his arrest.

RNN says 20 of its journalists have been unjustly detained since the July 3 coup. The network's other detainees include its director Samhy Mostafa, and one of its founders Abdullah Al-Fakharany.

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