2014-06-30 14:05:54

Democracy Now! 2014-06-30 Monday

Revelations by Edward Snowden about U.S. surveillance continue to shake Germany more than one year after he came forward as an National Security Agency whistleblower. Reports based on Snowden’s leaks revealed vast NSA spying in Germany, including on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Last week the German government canceled its contract with the U.S. telecommunications firm Verizon. Verizon has been providing network infrastructure for the German government’s Berlin-Bonn network, used for communication between government ministries, since 2010. Meanwhile, the German Parliament is continuing to conduct an inquiry into spying by theNSA and German secret services. Some German lawmakers are calling on Merkel’s government to grant Snowden asylum. We are joined by Snowden’s European lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, founder and general secretary for the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

It was six months ago Sunday when Egyptian authorities raided a hotel room in Cairo used by reporters at the global TV network Al Jazeera. The journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested December 29 and they have been held in jail ever since. Last week they were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison for allegedly "spreading false news" in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a "terrorist group." The sentence has shocked journalists and supporters of press freedom around the world. And the Al Jazeera reporters are not alone. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt is currently holding at least 11 other journalists in prison. We are joined by Salah Negm, director of news at Al Jazeera English. “We were reporting in Egypt objectively and accurately,” Negm says. “Throughout the trial there was not one piece of evidence against them of falsifying information or supporting any group that was which is outlawed. That was all false. The sentence came as a real shock.”

In a development many are linking to the Egyptian regime’s crackdown on dissent, Egypt’s most popular satirist announced this month that he was taking his program off the air. Bassem Youssef’s broadcast had been compared to Jon Stewart’s "The Daily Show" for its comedic take on politics in Egypt and the Middle East. The show was incredibly popular — reaching as many as 30 million views per episode. Youssef said he was ending his program rather than face censorship and threats on his life. Yousef was vague on the pressure he has faced, but suggested the military regime has made it impossible for him to continue. Speaking at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, Youssef said his decision to suspend the show could be seen as a new beginning. "We have inspired a whole generation to go out there and express themselves in their own way," Youssef says. "Satire and comedy might be one of the few antidotes against fear. It liberates your mind. It sets your judgement free. That is why it is a threat."

Al Jazeera Edward Snowden Egypt

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