Over 100 groups demand release of Al Jazeera English journalists in Egypt

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste await the guilty verdict in their case on June 23, 2014. PHOTO: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih
His Excellency Wael Ahmed Kamal Aboul-Magd Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Canada Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Ottawa 454 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6R3 Dear Ambassador, I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world. CJFE is one of over 100 members and partners of IFEX – the global network defending freedom of expression – condemning the recent verdict of the Cairo court in the case involving journalists from Al Jazeera English. Nairobi-based Al Jazeera English reporter Australian Peter Greste, the Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and the Al Jazeera producer Baher Mohamed have been detained since December 29 – part of that time they were held in solitary confinement. The verdict of the court, despite the lack of evidence and bizarre court proceedings over more than a dozen hearings, is an appalling attack on press freedom and carries an implicit threat to all media working in Egypt. The court proceedings have been farcical from the outset and there has not been a shred of evidence presented by the prosecution that in any way implicates the journalists in the charges of defaming Egypt and having ties to the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood. Contrary to the charges the three journalists have behaved ethically and responsibly while reporting on a complex, rapidly changing political environment in Egypt. Evidence presented to the court by the prosecution included holiday photographs of Peter Greste's parents, a recording of popular Australian singer Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know; Greste's award-winning reports from East Africa, Sky News Arabia's tourism reports, poorly photoshopped images, and BBC podcasts. Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years in prison for possession of ammunition, referring to a spent bullet casing that he had found on the ground during a protest. Evidence against Fahmy, Greste, and Mohamed included a clearly doctored photograph depicting Fahmy with former Egyptian military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, fabricated reports by "technical experts" and run of the mill reporting on sexual assaults in Tahrir Square. We the undersigned call on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to take immediate steps to rectify this extraordinary attack on press freedom and human rights:
  • • We call on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Egyptian authorities to immediately release the three Al Jazeera English journalist and all journalists detained for their journalism
  • • We urge the Egyptian government to overturn the verdict so that it is not a precedent to be used against other journalists in the future
  • • We urge that both local and foreign journalists working in Egypt be free to carry out their duties without harassment, intimidation or violence
    • We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply. Yours sincerely, Arnold Amber, CJFE President Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency Afghanistan Journalists Center Albanian Media Institute Arabic Network for Human Rights Information ARTICLE 19 Association for Civil Rights Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression Association of Caribbean Media Workers Bahrain Center for Human Rights Cambodian Center for Human Rights Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia Committee to Protect Journalists Federation of Nepali Journalists Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP Freedom Forum Hong Kong Journalists Association Independent Journalism Center - Moldova Index on Censorship Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela International Federation of Journalists International Publishers Association Journaliste en danger Journalists' Trade Union Media Institute of Southern Africa Media Watch National Union of Somali Journalists Norwegian PEN Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA Pakistan Press Foundation PEN American Center PEN Canada PEN International Reporters Without Borders Southeast Asian Press Alliance West African Journalists Association World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC World Press Freedom Committee Aliran, Malaysia Amnesty International Australia Asosiasaun Jornalista Timor Lorosa’e-AJTL Australian Broadcasting Corporation Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) Black Stump Media Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists Brisbane Times Building and Wood Workers International Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA) Center for Media Research - Nepal (CMR - Nepal) CHOICE Community Newspaper Group in Western Australia Crunch Media, Sydney, Australia The Globe and Mail Grupo de los Cien, Mexico Indian Journalists Union INFORM Human Rights Documentation centre, Sri Lanka Karen News Alan Kennedy, Australia The Media Foundation, India Mohamed Taha,Journalist, Western Sydney Bureau - ABC News National Union of Journalists - Nepal Neha Dixit, Independent Journalist, South Asia Nepal Press Union Nepal Sports Journalists Forum Network of Women in Media, India New Zealand Amalgamated Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union Inc. (EPMU) New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Next Media Trade Union Hong Kong NOW Magazine NUJ Nepal Online Journalists Association, Nepal Pakistan Federation of Journalists Partners for Law in Development PEN Flanders PEN Melbourne PEN Quebec PEN South Africa PEN USA Photojournalists Club, Nepal Point of View, Mumbai Radio 2GB, Sydney Rule of Law Institute of Australia Seven Network (Operations) Limited Sky News Australia Sky News New Zealand South Asian Free Media Association Sri Lanka Chapter South Asian Women in Media Sri Lanka SRC-CBC News Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) Swedish PEN Sydney PEN Centre thehoot.org, India The Tribe Press Agency Toronto Star The Walkley Foundation Amanda Wilson Communications Cc: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs The Honourable Lynne Yelich, P.C., M.P., Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular Services) Mr. David Drake, Ambassador of Canada to the Arab Republic of Egypt His Excellency Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt

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