International journalists call on Egypt to release Al Jazeera colleagues

Ahram Online , Monday 13 Jan 2014

Over 50 correspondents and reporters have called for the release of detained journalists in Egypt

Al Jazeera journalists
Al Jazeera international detained journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed

Journalists from over 50 different international media organisations have signed a petition calling for the release of Al Jazeera International journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

The three men have been detained since December. Greste is Australian, Fadel is of Egyptian origins but holds a Canadian passport, and Mohamed is Egyptian.

Egyptian prosecutors are investigating the men on charges of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood – officially designated a terrorist organisation – and broadcasting false news that could endanger national security.

"We, the undersigned correspondents and editors of international news organizations covering Egypt, hereby call for the immediate release of our colleagues Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who have been arbitrarily imprisoned since December 29," read the petition.

Signatories include CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Jeremy Bowen of the BBC, Ian Black and Patrick Kingsley of the Guardian, and many others.

The petition added also called for the release of other journalists detained in Egypt. Two other Al-Jazeera reporters remain in detention, including Abdullah El-Shamy, who worked for the Arabic Al Jazeera station, and was arrested on 14 August when police dispersed an Islamist protest camp in Cairo, killing hundreds.

"The arrest of these journalists has cast a cloud over press and media freedom in Egypt. We strongly believe that upholding the rights of journalists and permitting the free flow of information is vital to bringing about greater understanding and serves the best interests of all Egyptians and the world," the petition read.

The crew was arrested on 29 December at a Cairo hotel, and accused of broadcasting illegally and working without official credentials.   

Al Jazeera's Cairo offices have been closed down since 3 July, after being raided by security forces in the immediate aftermath of the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.

The only Al Jazeera-affiliated channel to have been banned by court order is Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr; all other sub-channels have been closed without one.

Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed are currently detained for another 15 days pending investigations.

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