Egypt second worst nation for jailing journalists: Reporters Without Borders

Hana Afifi , Tuesday 15 Dec 2015

File Photo: Journalists Syndicate (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt was named the second worst country for jailing journalists, following China, according to media rights group Reporters Without Borders' annual report issued Tuesday, AFP reported.

China was regarded as the "world's biggest prison for journalists," and Egypt ranked directly behind it.

The Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate sets the number of jailed journalists in Egypt at 32, including 18 cases related to journalism.

Head of the freedoms committee at the Journalists’ Syndicate Khaled El-Balshy told Ahram Online he cannot comment on the report because has not seen it, but that he can talk about the reality in Egypt, as there are many violations.

"It a very dangerous reality, and the number of journalists in prison has increased," El-Balshy said.

The number of jailed and detained journalists, according to El-Balshy, was 22 in 2014, an increase by over 68 percent compared to last year.

The head of the freedoms committee said the number of complaints exceeds the official number, and the syndicate is required to find proof that the detained person practices journalism.

The syndicate has repeatedly protested, and filed reports and requests to free journalists. It also launched a campaign to call for the release of journalists and offering medical care to them, as eight out of the 32 are in need of medical assistance.

In August of this year, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi claimed that, “no journalists in Egypt are being jailed over crimes related to publishing.”

In an interview with CNN in September, El-Sisi said, “I do not want to exaggerate, but we have unprecedented freedom of expression in Egypt. No one in Egypt can bar anyone working in media or journalism from expressing their views.”

The report by Reporters Without Borders said the global number of jailed journalists decreased by 14 percent compared to 2014, reaching 153, but the number of journalists held as hostages "jumped," AFP said.

The number of hostage journalists in 2015 was 54, an increase by 35 percent from last year.

Iran and Eritrea were also among the countries with the highest numbers of jailed press members.

Syria had the highest number of journalists held by criminal or civil or criminal extremist groups, determined at 26 by the report. ISIS group holds 18 journalists as hostages, mainly in Syria and Iraq.

Libya had the largest number (8) of missing reporters. The media rights group's secretary-general Christophe Deloire said, "A full-blown hostage history has developed in certain conflict zones."

Yemen is the newest problem country, as Houthi militias and Al-Qaeda kidnapped 33 journalists in 2015 compared to two in 2014.

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