Australian journalist freed from Egyptian jail, fight continues for colleagues

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Australian affiliate, theMedia, Entertainment & Arts Alliance  (MEAA), in welcoming the release of Australian national and Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste from jail in Egypt overnight. The IFJ and MEAA today reiterated their calls to the Egyptian government for the immediate release of the two other Al Jazeera journalists who remain in jail.

On December 29, 2013, Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, Al Jazeera bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, second producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy were arrested by agents of Egypt’s interior ministry on suspicion of illegally broadcasting news harming domestic security. While Fawzy was released within a month, Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed went on to face charges of “distorting the country’s image abroad” and “fabricating news to aid the Muslim Brotherhood” which the government has declared a terrorist organization.

In September, a joint delegation from the IFJ and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) met Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab to discuss the journalists ongoing incarceration and to open a dialogue to new avenues to seek the release of the journalists.

On January 1, 2015 a few days after the trio marked one year in jail, Egypt’s court of cassation ordered a retrial of their case.

Press freedom in Egypt in a parlous state as media faces controls and attacks by the courts, military, the political establishment and Islamist groups. Since the overthrow in July 2014 of President Mohammed Morsi, the media has increasingly engaged in increased self-censorship due to the intimidation, arbitrary detention and killing of journalists.

IFJ monitoring reveals eight journalists have been killed in the country since June 2013 - all were covering anti-Government protests at the time of their death. Of the 220 journalists currently in jail around the world, 12 are imprisoned in Egypt, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, Jane Worthington said: “We welcome the release of Peter Greste and look forward to see him finally reunited with his family who has fought so hard for his release over this long and painful ordeal.”

“While we celebrate the outcome for Peter today, the IFJ and our affiliates globally remain focused on the important task still at hand – which is to see Peter’s colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed also released as soon as possible. This saga must be brought to a close.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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