There is more disturbing news today about the continuing crackdown on journalists in Egypt. If the cornerstone of a democracy is indeed a free press, then there is reason for those of us who care about democracy to be concerned. And there is reason for all of us who care about fairness and accuracy in reporting to be concerned.
I am on the board of the Overseas Press Club Foundation and a member of the Overseas Press Club, which today published this letter of in support of the four journalists who were arrested on what appear to be trumped up charges. We will be following the story closely on GroundTruth and we hope that the Egyptian authorities will come to their senses and understand that a strong and independent press will help the country find its way along the path to democracy.
The detention in Cairo of four journalists working for Al Jazeera English is a deplorable development and further evidence that Egypt's military leader, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is determined to crack down on the free press. The Overseas Press Club of America demands the immediate release of correspondent Peter Greste, producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and cameramen Mohamed Fawzy. The accusations lodged against them — including the supposed broadcasting of “false news” that “damaged national security” — appear to be part of a campaign to intimidate journalists covering Egypt politics. That work necessarily includes reporting on the activities of the once-again outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Reporters are in increasing jeopardy in Egypt — as documented by our friends at the Committee to Protect Journalists. Al Jazeera’s team should be freed immediately and Egypt’s Ministry of the Interior and the el-Sisi regime must ensure their safety and well-being.
OPC Press Freedom Committee