Urging Egypt to drop charges against Alaa Abd El-Fattah

Friday, March 6, 2015
His Excellency Wael Ahmed Kamal Aboul-Magd Ambassador of Arab Republic of Egypt in Ottawa Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa 454 Laurier Ave. 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 condemns the five-year sentence handed down on February 23, 2015 against Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah. He was convicted on charges that he violated draconian anti-protest legislation, which prohibits demonstrations without government permission, when he allegedly took part in a 2013 protest against the use of unjust military trials on civilians. Abd El-Fattah is reportedly appealing the conviction. CJFE echoes calls by press freedom and human rights organizations around the world calling for the Egyptian government to drop all charges against Abd El-Fattah. We further urge the Egyptian authorities to repeal or reform the restrictive anti-demonstration law to ensure compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt has been a signatory since 1967. CJFE is also deeply concerned by the continued arbitrary detention of at least 60 other media workers in Egypt, including the renowned photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zied, known as Shawkan, who was arrested on August 14, 2013 while covering the forced dispersal of a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in in Cairo. On February 16, 2015 Cairo’s Criminal Court once again extended Abou Zied’s detention indefinitely, despite his having spent 552 days in prison without charge and being subjected to torture and ill treatment. CJFE deplores what appears to be a systematic assault on free expression in Egypt and urges the government to drop charges against Alaa Abd El-Fattah and to put an end to the indefinite detention of all journalists and prisoners of conscience in the country. Finally, we encourage Egyptian authorities to take all steps necessary to bring Egypt into compliance with international norms and standards on freedom of expression and assembly, and to ensure that all Egyptian citizens are able to exercise their rights without fear of harm or reprisal from the government. We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply. Yours sincerely, Arnold Amber, CJFE President

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