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Egypt syndicate stands by journalists in 'Rabaa operations room' case

The Journalist Syndicate's freedoms committee is to study how to obtain the release of member and non-member journalists sentenced in the case on Saturday

Hana Afifi , Saturday 11 Apr 2015
File Photo: Journalists hold up pens as they participate in a silent protest against terrorism and in solidarity with the victims of a shooting by gunmen at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, January 11, 2015. The banner reads, "The Press Syndicate denounces criminal acts against journalists, and terrorism, in all its forms" (Photo: Reuters)

The Journalists Syndicate's freedoms committee said Saturday that it would form a legal committee to study how to obtain the release of all journalists sentenced in the 'Rabaa operations room' case.

Up to 37 defendants were sentenced to life and another 14 to death on Saturday, on charges of setting up an "operations room" at the protest camp supporting ousted president Mohamed Morsi in the Cairo neighbourhood of Rabaa Al-Adawiya in the summer of 2013, among other charges.

In a statement, the freedoms committee expressed its solidarity with the journalists in appealing their cases, and said it would again demand that they be released with the syndicate's guarantee pending a final verdict.

"Everyone who practices the profession of journalism will be among our priorities," the committee head's Khaled El-Balshy told Ahram Online. "We will take all procedures that the law allows the syndicate in order to intervene in the case."

Saturday's verdict, and the situation of all other detained journalists, would top the agenda at a syndicate meeting to be attended by lawyers on Tuesday, he said.

Three Journalist Syndicate members were sentenced in the case, El-Balshy said, and the syndicate was now determining how many other non-members also stood trial, in order "to protect the rights of all journalists involved."

The syndicate had previously submitted demands to various entities to release over 20 detained journalists, in several cases including the 'operations room' case, following President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's promises to release those unjustly detained, most recently in February, he said. But recent developments in this last case might require new measures from the syndicate.

In its statement, the Journalists Committee held the interior ministry responsible for the health of journalist Hany Salah El-Din, who needed urgent surgery according to prison doctors, and called on authorities to respond to their demands for him to undergo the necessary operation.

They also called for an improvement to the situation of all detained journalists in Egypt.

The Journalists Syndicate elected a new board and president, Yehia Qallash, on March 21.

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