International journalists support Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed

Monday, June 23, 2014

On June 21, 2014, a letter from dozens of international correspondents was sent to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in advance of the June 23 verdict in the trial of Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed. This letter requested that President Sisi release the jailed journalists. Earlier today Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were sentenced to seven years in prison, while their colleague Baher Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years for an additional charge of possession of ammunition.

June 21, 2014

Your Excellency President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,

On behalf of the international correspondents in Cairo, we write to ask respectfully that you consider the release or pardon of our jailed colleagues Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed.

We understand the vital importance of judicial independence. Regardless of the specific allegations, we also believe that the punishment of the three journalists would have a gravely harmful effect on freedom of expression and the free press--- values celebrated in Egypt’s new constitution and around the world.

All three journalists are highly regarded professionals who have previously distinguished themselves for well-known international news organizations. Mohamed Fahmy previously worked at CNN. Peter Greste worked for the BBC. Baher Mohamed worked for the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest and most prestigious news organizations, until April, 2013.

None of the three has any history of violence. None has any history of affiliation with, or sympathy for, groups accused of violence. None have belonged to any political movement.

Mohamed Fahmy, who spent much of his life in the West, marched with other Egyptians on June 30, 2013 to ask for a change of government and on July 26, 2013 in support of Egypt’s new leadership. Peter Greste is an Australian new to Egypt. He had spent only a few days in Egypt or any other Arab country before his arrest.

All three have now spent six months in prison awaiting their trial and its conclusion. They have already paid a heavy price for an alleged offense that--- according to the worst possible accusations—involved only words and pictures, not guns and bombs.

Mohamed Fahmy has been unable to receive adequate physiotherapy for an injured shoulder, and as a result he has permanently lost his full range of motion in one arm. Baher Mohamed is awaiting the birth of his third child.

As journalists, we support the release of all of our Egyptian or international colleagues who may be imprisoned for doing what they believed to be their jobs. Before the inauguration of your Excellency, the Committee to Protect Journalists counted sixteen journalists in Egyptian jails.

One of them, Abdullah Elshamy, was released this week for humanitarian reasons, because of his failing health. We very much appreciate his release. It has encouraged our hopes of freedom and clemency for others.

The case of Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed is unique because of their respected careers at prestigious international news organizations. Most of the international correspondents working in Cairo know at least one of them personally. Their case has drawn the attention of the world.

The case is also now urgent because the court is scheduled to deliver its verdict on June 23.

Adly Mansour, the current president of the Supreme Constitutional Court and the former interim president, has also expressed support for a swift return of the journalists to their families.

“Notwithstanding the independence of the judiciary authority and foremost all the rights guaranteed by the law,” Mr. Mansour wrote in a public letter to the family of Peter Greste, “I would like to assure you in my capacity as president of Egypt that I will spare no effort to work toward the speedy resolution of the case in a fashion consistent with the law and that guarantees the reunion of the family in the near future.”

Whatever the verdict, we firmly believe that the release of the journalists— by acquittal, presidential pardon or some other act of clemency--- will send a positive message to Egypt and the world. It will demonstrate the confidence and stability of the government as well as an appreciation of the important role of journalism.

We respectfully request that you use whatever legal powers you can as the elected president to help secure the release of our three colleagues.

Sincerely,

Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Correspondent
The Nation

Sophie Anmuth
Freelance journalist

Katie Baker
Managing Editor
The Daily Beast

Alessandra Bajec

Kate Benyon-Tinker
Cairo Producer
BBC

Ian Black
Middle East Editor
The Guardian

Stina Blomgren
Swedish Television, SVT

Nadéra Bouazza
Freelance journalist
El Watan, Slate

Andrea Böhm
Middle East Correspondent
DIE ZEIT, Germany

Theresa Breuer
Freelance Journalist

Laura Cappon
Correspondent
Radio Populare, Italy

Edith Chapin
International Editor
National Public Radio

Francesca Cicardi
Correspondent
La Razon, Spain

Andy Clarke
London Bureau Chief
CBS News

Richard Colebourne
Middle East Bureau Chief
BBC

Tom Dale
Contributor
The Independent

Puk Damsgard
Middle East Correspondent
Danish Broadcasting Corporation

Borzou Daragahi
Correspondent
The Financial Times

Laura Dean
Freelance Journalist

Vanessa Descouraux
Correspondent
Radio France

Sonia Dridi
Correspondent
France 24

Karim El-Gawhary
Correspondent
Austrian Radio and TV ORF

Susanne El Khafif
Deutschlandradio

Sarah El Sirgany
Independent Journalist

Miriam Elder
Foreign Editor
BuzzFeed

Samuel Forey
Freelance Journalist

Ricard Gonzalez

Charlene Gubash
Producer
NBC News

Marion Guenard
Correspondent
Le Monde

Orla Guerin
Cairo Correspondent
BBC

Martin Gehlen
Middle East Correspondent
Tagesspiegel

Julia Gerlach
Correspondent
Berliner Zeitung

Peter Hessler
The New Yorker

Kim Hjelmgaard
Deputy Foreign Editor
USA TODAY

Francois Hume-Ferkatadji
Freelance Journalist

Marc Innaro
Cairo Bureau Chief
RAI—Italian TV and Radio

Ane Irazabal
EiTB, Basque

Amina Ismail
Correspondent
McClatchy Newspapers

Doug Jehl
Foreign Editor
The Washington Post

Roula Khalaf
Foreign Editor
Financial Times

Ashraf Khalil
Contributor
Time Magazine

Patrick Kingsley
Egypt Correspondent
The Guardian

Giovanna Loccatelli
Freelance Journalist

Ursula Lindsey
Chronicle of Higher Education

Louisa Loveluck
The Christian Science Monitor

Adam Makary
Producer
ABC News

Jared Malsin
Contributor
Time Magazine

Nadine Marroushi
Freelance journalist

Ester Meerman
KRO Radio, Netherlands

Sigurd Falkenberg Mikkelsen
Norwegian Broadcasting, NRK

Delphine Minoui
Correspondent
Le Figaro

Perrine Mouterde
Correspondent
Radio France Internationale and Libération

Ayman Mohyeldin
Foreign Correspondent
NBC News

Alex Ortiz
Correspondent
CBS News

Amel Pain
Middle East Bureau Chief
European Pressphoto Agency

Ruth Pollard
Middle East Correspondent
The Sydney Morning Herald & The Age

Mark Porubcansky
Foreign Editor
The Los Angeles Times

Adam Ramsey
Freelance Journalist

Claire Read
Producer
BBC Arabic

Max Rodenbeck
Mideast Bureau Chief
The Economist

Paula Rosas
El Correo

Jesse Rosenfeld
Contributor
The Daily Beast

Andrew Roy
World News Editor
BBC

Heba Saleh
Correspondent
Financial Times

Reza Sayah
Correspondent
CNN

Akram Shaban
Cairo Bureau Chief
BBC Arabic

Michael Slackman
Deputy International Editor
The New York Times

Richard Spencer
Middle East Correspondent and Bureau Chief
Daily and Sunday Telegraph

Bill Spindle
Middle East Bureau Chief
The Wall Street Journal

Derek Stoffel
Middle East Correspondent
CBC News

Sherine Tadros
Cairo Correspondent
SkyNews

Cecilia Udden
Sveriges Radio

Ruth Vandewalle
Freelance contributor to De Standaard, Nieuwsuur, VRT, VPRO, Belgium

Anne Françoise Weber
Freelance Journalist

Pascal Weber
Correspondent
SRF Swiss TV

Jon Williams
Managing Editor, International News
ABC News

Nancy Youssef
Middle East Bureau Chief
McClatchy Newspapers