IFJ urges Egypt to drop charges against journalists' leaders

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), representing 600,000 journalists worldwide, today urged the Egyptian authorities to immediately drop the charges leaders of the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate (EJS) who face accusations of "harbouring fugitives." EJS President Yahya Qallash, Vice President Khalid el Balshi and General Secretary Gamal Abdulrahim were questioned by police in Cairo for 14 hours Sunday to early Monday morning about allegations of "harbouring fugitives in the union´s offices." Earlier this month, the police stormed the union´s headquarters and arrested journalists Omar Badr and Mahmoud al Saqa, accusing them of incitement. A judge in Cairo today morning granted EJS' leaders bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (1,000 USD) each but they refused to pay. As a result, they journalists will remain in jail for four days pending further investigations after which they may re-appear before the judge. "These are outrageous charges against the union and its leaders and should be dropped immediately," said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. ¨Falsely accusing press freedom defenders, charging them and sending them to prison can only happen in an oppressive police state and Egypt is behaving like one." The IFJ further renewed its international solidarity with Egyptian journalists who are standing up for press freedom and union's rights in the country.

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