The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Australian affiliate, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) in denouncing the verdict of an Egyptian court, which convicted Australian journalist, Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues Mohammad Fahmy and Baher Mohamed in the retrial. The IFJ joins MEAA in expressing serious concern for press freedom in Egypt, which has come under attack in recent years.
On 29 August, Greste, Fahmy and Baher were sentenced to three years in prison for working without a press license, broadcasting material damaging to Egypt, and for having ties to the blacklisted Muslim brotherhood. Greste, who was deported from Egypt in February, was convicted in absentia, however his colleagues were immediately taken away and Baher Mohamed received an additional six months imprisonment and fine.
The three media workers and their colleague Mohamed Fawzy were arrested on December 29, 2013 at the Marriot Hotel in Cairo, Egypt. They were arrested for ‘damaging national security’ following meetings they had had with the Muslim Brotherhood and subsequently charged with ‘distorting the country’s image abroad’ and ‘fabricating news to aid the Muslim Brotherhood’. Following the initial trial they were sentenced to seven years in jail, Fawzy was released shortly after the arrest. Greste served 400 days in the Cairo prison, while Fahmy and Baher were released after serving more than 400 days.
MEAA said: “Over the course of both trials, the prosecution had not presented any evidence suggesting the three had committed any wrongdoing other than simply performing their job. The verdict is yet another deliberate assault on press freedom and if allowed to stand, compromises the ability of other journalists to operate safely in Egypt without threat of arrest, harassment and intimidation for reporting the truth.”
The IFJ said: “The IFJ echoes the sentiments from MEAA in denouncing the sentencing and calling for the immediate release of Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy. We call on Egyptian President, Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi, to use his presidential influence to stop this farce and immediately repeal the charges and sentences against these journalists.”
“The Egyptian authorities should guarantee journalists and media workers are free to report in Egypt without fear of harassment, intimidation or threats.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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