EXILE: Day 14: Yehia’s ordeal… “This decision has ruined lives.”
Via The Atlantic:
An Egyptian Journalist’s Nightmare: The ordeal of Yehia Ghanem, who was convicted in Egypt’s notorious NGO trial.
In a long and distinguished career in Egyptian journalism, Yehia Ghanem has been a foreign correspondent and an editor for Al-Ahram, the country’s most respected newspaper. He has written four books, participated in international forums, and in recent years devoted much of his time to the training of younger journalists under a program directed by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). But on June 4, after a protracted trial in which he and several dozen other Egyptians with connections to foreign nonprofit organizations were accused of receiving illegal payments from abroad, Ghanem was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison at hard labor…
… Now a fugitive, Ghanem is cut off from his family, his livelihood, and with little hope for a return anytime soon unless he is pardoned…
In remarks made last week to the ICFJ board of directors, Ghanam’s account of the events around the trial was harrowing:
When I heard the prosecutor in his closing argument shouting at the top of his voice pointing at me: “that criminal who was misguided by his lust and driven by his own devil” I have to wonder: is this nightmare or a reality. When the investigating authorities leak your home address, landline number and all your personal contacts to the media in the middle of a fierce campaign to incite the public against you encouraging angry commoners to come to your doorsteps seeking revenge from an “Enemy of the State” then this must be a nightmare. When your elder son gets attacked by his schoolmates for trying to defend his father’s reputation and ends up with broken arms, then this must be a nightmare.
[ICFJ President] Barnathan said in her testimony to Congress:
This decision has ruined lives. What do you say to a distinguished journalist like Yehia Ghanem, whom we had hired to lead our new program which hadn’t even begun. . . . He got a two year sentence and cannot return to his wife and three children–and the country he loves–without going to prison.