Monday, December 29, 2014
Image courtesy of Al Jazeera.
By Alexandra Zakreski
Today, December 29, marks a year since Al Jazeera English journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were arrested
in their Cairo hotel room and in that time the climate for press freedom has continued to decline in Egypt.
Despite repeated guarantees that he will safeguard press freedom
, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has yet to make good on his word. Mohamed Fahmy and his colleagues continue to languish in prison after a trial so absurd that it’s been condemned around the world, and they are only three of at least 12 journalists currently jailed in Egypt. Two journalists, Mohamed Helmy and Mayada Ashraf, were killed in the country this year while covering clashes between protesters and security forces and there has yet to be anyone held accountable for their deaths.
Meanwhile, self-censorship is becoming more common in some Egyptian media outlets after 17 editors of both state owned and independent news organizations signed a pledge of allegiance
to the government which includes a “rejection of attempts to cast doubt on state institutions.” In this hostile environment for free expression, objective and critical reporting on the political climate in Egypt is becoming harder and harder to access.
The Al Jazeera journalists’ appeal against their conviction on terrorism charges will be heard on January 1, at which point the court will decide whether to uphold the previous verdict or to allow a retrial. However, Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed have already been jailed for a year too long.
After a year of unjust imprisonment, CJFE joins media and press freedom organizations around the world in demanding that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi finally #FreeAJStaff.
Show your support for the campaign to free Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed by tweeting a photograph of yourself with tape covering your mouth and use the hashtag #FreeAJStaff
Below, find some key facts and figures about the #FreeAJStaff campaign and the state of press freedom in Egypt in 2014.
Alexandra Zakreski is CJFE’s International Programs Coordinator.