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Egyptian journalists gather to protect freedom of press syndicate

The Journalists Syndicate is holding an emergency assembly to discuss escalatory measures in the current crisis

Ahram Online , Wednesday 4 May 2016
Egyptian journalists
Egyptian journalists take part in a protest outside the Syndicate headquarters in Cairo on May 3, 2016 on the occasion of World Press Freedom day, a day after police stormed the headquarters of the journalists' association and arrested two journalists (AFP)
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Egyptian journalists will gather on Wednesday in the headquarters of their syndicate in downtown Cairo to defend the freedom of their union after police raided the building on Sunday to arrest two journalists who were staging a sit-in inside.

The board of the syndicate described the move as "unprecedented and unconstitutional."

Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka were among dozens of activists and journalists who were ordered to be arrested a few days before the 25 April protests against the recent Egyptian-Saudi Arabia Red Sea island agreement.

The prosecution ordered that the two be detained for 15 days pending investigation into charges of “plotting to overthrow the regime” and “spreading false news.”

The storming of the Journalists Syndicate caused outrage among journalists who started an open sit-in on Sunday demanding the resignation on the interior minister.

"We condemn this barbaric attack and this flagrant assault on our journalists and we call for the immediate sacking of the interior minister," the syndicate said in a statement on Monday.

However, the interior ministry attempted to defend its position on Monday by saying that "the two journalists are accused of inciting violations of the protest law, disrupting security and attempting to destabilise the country as they sought to use the syndicate building to avoid arrest."

On Monday the police started blocking off the streets around the syndicate building and preventing anyone other than journalists with membership with the union from entering the street of Abdel Khaleq Tharwat.

Security forces banned delegations from several political parties as well as professional syndicates who sought to enter the building to show solidarity.

The lawyers syndicate said in a statement that a solidarity meeting was due to be held between a number of its board members and those of the press syndicate but was aborted by "tight security" around the building.

It called for holding those responsible for such measures to account, while demanding the dismissal of the interior minister.

The head of the Journalists Syndicate Yehia Qalash told a press conference on Tuesday that the regime is at war with journalists.

"This year we mark World Press Freedom Day with Egypt declining in all the international rankings," he said

"Instead of seeing the government take concrete measures to overcome this situation, we are surprised to see it escalating the war against journalism and journalists," he said.

On Tuesday evening Egypt's top prosecutor issued a gag order in the case of the storming of the Journalists Syndicate premises on Sunday and the arrest of journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka.





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