Egypt's Press Syndicate is to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the ongoing crackdown on journalists and press freedom, the head of the syndicate’s freedoms committee, Khaled El-Balshy, told Ahram Online.
“The interior ministry and many other governmental apparatuses have been filing frequent legal complaints against journalists, and these are all proof that the current government is targeting journalists,” El-Balshy said.
Syndicate council member Mahmoud Kamel confirmed to Ahram Online that the meeting would take place at the syndicate’s headquarters on Monday afternoon in the presence of syndicate head Yehia Qallash.
El-Balshy said the crackdown on journalists and media figures had gone far beyond expectations, adding that “even those who are close [to the authorities] are being summoned and investigated.”
On Saturday, Youm 7 editor-in-chief Khaled Salah and another editor were charged with publishing false news, inciting fear and threatening public security. They were both released on bail later the same day.
The interior ministry filed a complaint against both men, accusing them of publishing false news on 11 June about alleged terrorists who attacked cars affiliated with the Egyptian presidency.
“All these legal cases against journalists reveal the authorities’ position towards expression and freedom, and our role in the syndicate is to totally oppose these practices,” stressed El-Balshy.
The union's freedoms committee said a protest on Wednesday – which involved a partial strike and sit-in – was aimed at protesting the jailing of journalists and shrinking press freedoms, as well to demand higher salaries and syndicate protection from arbitrary sacking by newspapers.
Egypt was ranked among the ten worst jailers of journalists in the world in December of last year. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in its annual census that at least 12 journalists, including three Al-Jazeera journalists, are detained in Egypt.