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Egypt among worst 10 jailers of journalists: CPJ

Egypt has detained at least 12 journalists in 2014, the Committee to Protect Journalists said

Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Dec 2014
journalist protest big
Journalists and Photographers protest in front of Journalism Syndicate to reject the arrest of fellow photographers, Saturday 7 Dec 2013 (Photo: Hala Safwat)

Egypt is among the world's worst ten jailers of journalists in 2014, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on Wednesday.

In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ said the number of journalists in Egypt's prisons has "more than doubled to at least 12," including three from Al-Jazeera network.

"CPJ believes that journalists should not be imprisoned for doing their jobs. The organisation has sent letters expressing its serious concerns to each country that has imprisoned a journalist," it said.

The US-based committee identified 220 journalists "confirmed to have been imprisoned in relation to their work" globally in 2014. China is ranked the worst jailer of journalists with 44 put behind bars this year, followed by 30 imprisoned in Iran.

Earlier in December, the Cairo-based Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), said in a report that Egypt arrested 44 journalists – but not necessarily currently detained – in the first half of 2014.

Those still in jail are at least ten, according to AFTE, including Ahmed Zeyada from Yaqeen network, freelance photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid – known as Shawkan – and Amed Fouad from Alexandria-based website Karmouz. In addition, two journalists from Rassd News network are also in detention, among others.

Most journalists faced accusations not directly related to their work such as staging unauthorised protests, violence and terrorism.

Meanwhile, three journalists of the Qatari Al Jazeera English news network were sentenced in June to jail terms ranging from seven to ten years for spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, a group now outlawed by Egyptian authorities.

Worldwide detention

The top 10 worst countries according to CPJ also include Syria, Turkey, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Burma and Azerbaijan.

One hundred and thirty two journalists jailed worldwide - 60 percent – faced "anti-state charges such as subversion or terrorism," said CPJ, adding that this is "roughly in line" with the proportion of such charges in previous years.

"CPJ defines journalists as people who cover the news or comment on public affairs in media, including print, photographs, radio, television, and online," the report said.

It added that online journalists accounted for more than half of those in prison this year. It also said that roughly one third of the total journalists in jail were freelancers.

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