The war  between extremists represented by the Muslim brotherhood and the government intensified after the removal of Mohammed Morsi by the military. It will be worthwhile to remember that Mohammed Morsi was elected president after the western powers led by the USA sided with opponents of the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak during the period  known as the "Arab Spring". In hindsight, the removal of Hosni Mubarak had a negative fallout as Mohammed Morsi who came to power tried to take a modern and secular Egypt back to medieval times including enforcement of the Sharia. He also tried to wreck the secular fabric of Egyptian society. The USA under Obama failed to realize the repercussions of removing Mubarak.

 Morsi as president alarmed the army, which in a military coup overthrew him and put him on trial for treason and other charges. 

The trial

The army under general Sisi has cracked down on the Muslim brotherhood and a spate of trials have been launched. One the latest trials in Cairo is against 6 Egyptians, of whom two are employees of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera News channel. It was alleged in court that these 6 had passed secret and sensitive information including the deployment of the army to Qatar during the time when Mohammed Morsi was president.   The prosecutor had asked for the death penalty. Mohammed Morsi was also put on trial for this offense and was awarded a prison term of 25 years. The two Al Jazeera employees  were awarded death in absentia, as they are out of the country.

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As per Egyptian law, the verdict will now be reviewed by the Grand Mufti, the top Muslim theologian in the country. Morsi escaped the death rap in this case, but there is no likelihood that he will be released as he faces the death penalty in other cases.

Factual position in Egypt.

Egypt ranks 158 out of 180 in the worldwide Press freedom Index. But things are not so bad as in another case. Three journalists who were employees of Al Jazeera channel that were sentenced to prison terms were pardoned by  the president general Sisi. The fact is that Egypt can take no chances with the Muslim brotherhood, which is now supported by Muslim extremist organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda. We can presume the Grand Mufti will concur with the punishments awarded  and the matter will again rest with General Sisi. The office of the Grand Mufti has already conveyed that Egyptians who betray their country cannot be pardoned and deserve the harshest punishment as they have betrayed their motherland.