Media outlets demand freedom for Al Jazeera journalists

Rebecca Hawkes | 14-01-2014

More than 50 news organisations have called upon the Egyptian Government to release three Al Jazeera journalists taken into custody on 29 December 2013.

The arrest of acting bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, correspondent Peter Greste and producer Baher Mohamed was, says, the Interior Ministry, part of its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which it now brands a “terrorist” organisation. Cameraman Mohamed Fawzy was also detained but later released.

Signatories of the international petition include Jeremy Bowen, Lyse Doucet, Andrew Roy and Richard Colebourn of the BBC, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Reza Sayah, Sonia Dridi and Kathryn Stapley of France 24, Andy Clarke of CBS News, Cecilia Uddén of Swedish Broadcasting, Nevine Mabro and Jonathan Miller of Channel 4 News, and Jon Williams of ABC News.
The statement also calls for the release of other journalists held in Egypt, including Al Jazeera Arabic employee Abdullah Al Shami and Mohammed Badr, cameraman for Al Jazeera’s Egyptian channel Mubashar Misr.

“The arrest of these journalists has cast a cloud over press and media freedom in Egypt. We strongly believe that upholding the rights of journalists and permitting the free flow of information is vital to bringing about greater understanding and serves the best interests of all Egyptians and the world,” reads the petition.

Ghassan Abu Hussein, spokesman for Al Jazeera Media Network, added: “We condemn the allegations directed at our staff by Egyptian authorities which are aiming to stigmatise us, and further incite violence against our journalists working on the ground.

Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were remanded in custody for 15 more days on 8 January 2014, according to the state prosecutor.

The Qatar-based satellite broadcaster said it is becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of its staff as their imprisonment continues, and is calling for their immediate freedom.