SIGN ON ~ EGYPT: Demand the release of recently sentenced Al Jazeera staff

INTERNAL APPEAL - EGYPT

**Please send your organisation’s signature to [email protected] before 5pm EST this Thursday, 26 June 2014**

SOURCE: The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) and the International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific (IFJ AP), Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)

Dear IFEX members,

This Monday, we were shocked to learn that Al Jazeera English reporter Peter Greste (Australian), Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy (Canadian-Egyptian) and Al Jazeera producer Baher Mohamed (Egyptian) were found guilty on terrorism charges by a Cairo court. The three journalists have already been detained since December 29, 2013.

The verdict of the court, despite the lack of evidence and bizarre court proceedings over more than a dozen hearings, is an appalling attack on press freedom and carries an implicit threat to all media working in Egypt and in the region.

There has not been a shred of evidence presented by the prosecution that in any way implicates the journalists in the charges of defaming Egypt and having ties to the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood. Contrary to the charges, the three journalists have behaved ethically and responsibly while reporting on a complex, rapidly changing political environment in Egypt.

Journalists should be free to carry out their duties without harassment, intimidation or violence. We ask you to sign onto a joint statement urging President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Egyptian authorities to intervene to free the three journalists who have been detained for simply doing their jobs.

This joint action is open for signatures beyond the IFEX membership, so we encourage you to circulate the statement among your respective networks or to fellow free expression, human rights, press and legal organisations and ask groups to send their signatures to [email protected]g.

Best regards,
The International Federation of Journalists (Asia Pacific)
Christopher Warren, Federal Secretary, Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)

The text of the joint statement we are asking you to sign follows:

IFEX members and partners call on the President of Egypt, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to take immediate steps to free detained Al-Jazeera English journalists

25 June 2014

We, members and partners of IFEX – the global network defending freedom of expression – condemn the recent verdict of the Cairo court in the case involving journalists from Al Jazeera English.

Nairobi-based Al Jazeera English reporter Australian Peter Greste, the Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and the Al Jazeera producer Baher Mohamed have been detained since December 29 – part of that time they were held in solitary confinement.

The verdict of the court, despite the lack of evidence and bizarre court proceedings over more than a dozen hearings, is an appalling attack on press freedom and carries an implicit threat to all media working in Egypt.

The court proceedings have been farcical from the outset and there has not been a shred of evidence presented by the prosecution that in any way implicates the journalists in the charges of defaming Egypt and having ties to the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood. Contrary to the charges the three journalists have behaved ethically and responsibly while reporting on a complex, rapidly changing political environment in Egypt.

Evidence presented to the court by the prosecution included holiday photographs of Peter Greste’s parents, a recording of popular Australian singer Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know; Greste’s award-winning reports from East Africa, Sky News Arabia’s tourism reports, poorly photoshopped images, and BBC podcasts.

Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years in prison for possession of ammunition, referring to a spent bullet casing that he had found on the ground during a protest.

Evidence against Fahmy, Greste, and Mohamed included a clearly doctored photograph depicting Fahmy with former Egyptian military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, fabricated reports by "technical experts" and run of the mill reporting on sexual assaults in Tahrir Square.

We the undersigned call on President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to take immediate steps to rectify this extraordinary attack on press freedom and human rights:

• We call on President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Egyptian authorities to immediately release the three Al Jazeera English journalist and all journalists detained for their journalism.
• We urge that both local and foreign journalists working in Egypt be free to carry out their duties without harassment, intimidation or violence

Signed,
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA)
International Federation of Journalists Asia Pacific (IFJ - AP)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
[more signatures to follow]

For more information, contact:

The International Federation of Journalists
IFJ Asia – Pacific Project Office
C/- Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance,
245 Chalmers St,
Redfern Sydney NSW 2016
Australia
Phone: +612 9333 0999
Fax: +612 9333 0933
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.asiapacific.ifj.org

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance,
245 Chalmers St,
Redfern Sydney NSW 2016
Australia
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.alliance.org.au