Journalist who fled Egypt speaks out

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BNR- correspondent Rena Netjes has escaped Egypt. She, together with other journalists, had been placed on a terrorist suspect list, and it was no longer safe for her in Egypt. One year ago, Netjes was also stuck in an Egyptian jail cell. That time, the authorities suspected her of being a spy. BNR spoke to Rena Netjes yesterday morning before she boarded her plane back to safety in the Netherlands. "Last week Wednesday it came to light that there was also a Dutch name in the list of a group of twenty Al Jazeera journalists suspected of terrorism. They found a mangled name and a number that corresponded with my Social Security number." The embassy immediately informed Netjes, who let herself be chauffeured with knocking knees to the embassy.  "I was very relieved that I had reached the embassy. There I heard the accusations and those were worse than I expected. Apparently, I was a member of a terrorist cell from the Marriott, where Al Jazeera English lived. I had an appointment there with a Sinai-specialist from Al Jazeera, about his specialism and why jihadists are more often leaving for the mainland." On that occasion, the Marriott copied Netjes's passport. "So for me, the link was created very easily. My lawyer also said that I didn't need to look anywhere else, that they swept everything together. Also the people who visited the journalist are suddenly terrorists. That's how it works, but it is very scary that you're suddenly accosted with accusations of terrorism, at which you could spend years locked in a notorious prison." Netjes told the whole story to the embassy. They looked for a safe place for her and contacted the authorities. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is busy on a tour of Europe and will come back to the Netherlands on Thursday. "The embassy asked the authorities for clarification as a result of reports that the Dutch journalist would be accused. I had never thought it could be me, I don't actually work for Al Jazeera", Netjes says. Last week Wednsesday, the Public Prosecutor in Egypt relayed that in the list of twenty accused Al Jazeera English journalists next to 16 Egyptians, one Australian and two Brits there was also on Dutch name. The threat of a media offensive seemed enough, in the end, for permission to fly to the Netherlands via Dubai, where Netjes arrived yesterday afternoon. "This is some sort of hysterical outburst from a regime that shows signs of string-pulling from a dictator. That is very alarming. Al Jazeera is apparently suspect, and I wouldn't know why. The explanation could be that the channel is a mouthpiece of the Emir of Quatar, who is very outspoken about the Muslim Brotherhood. Those journalists are being lumped together over the Muslim Brotherhood, and that is very alarming. This is what a dictator does." The democracy that Egypt craved for a few years ago, and which seemed to be within reach, now seems further away than ever. "It is distressing that as a result of the first arrests a few years ago, the authorities said that there is nothing wrong and that everyone can talk to everyone. That is completely untrue."

VVD-spokesperson Han ten Broeke will ask for clarity from minister Timmermans of Foreign Affairs, he tells BNR. "He must tell what he wants to do about it. I think that he should thoroughly question the Egyptian minister of Foreign Affairs about the issue. It is such as Bernard Hammelburg indicates a land with a lot of suspicion. There were reasons for this, but does not have to fall to journalists." Previous Story: Dutch Journalist Escapes Egypt.


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