WASHINGTON, June 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Press Club on Wednesday voiced alarm over deteriorating press freedom conditions in Egypt following this week's arrest of the head of the country's journalists' union.
Egyptian Press Syndicate head Yahia Galash and two board members, Gamal Abdel Raheem and Khaled Elbashy, were detained by security forces on Sunday, questioned for 13 hours and then charged on Monday with illegally harboring suspects and publishing false news, according to news reports. The charges stem from a May 1 incident when the press syndicate's Cairo headquarters was raided by police and two Egyptian journalists sheltering inside were arrested. That raid led to calls from thousands of Egyptian journalists for the country's interior minister to be fired.
The press syndicate in recent weeks has feuded publicly with the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which objects to critical reporting about its decision to hand control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Egyptian security forces have attempted to prevent reporters and photographers from covering public protests about the islands handover. Dozens of journalists have been arrested since late April. At least one photojournalist, Ali Abdeen, has been sentenced to two years in prison, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
"The growing intolerance the Sisi government is showing toward independent reporting is deeply concerning, particularly in a country that is a close U.S. security partner," said Thomas Burr, NPC president. "We urge Cairo to rethink these undemocratic actions, which have deeply hurt Egypt's image abroad. We further call on Washington to take press freedom concerns into account as it discusses further security assistance with Egyptian security officials. We stand in solidarity with the many Egyptian journalists who recently marched through the streets, chanting 'journalism is not a crime.'"
Egypt is the second biggest jailer of journalists globally, according to CPJ's 2015 prison census.
The National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club works to promote freedom of expression and transparency at home and abroad. The club's Journalism Institute, a non-profit affiliate, equips news professionals with the skills to innovate, leverages emerging trends, recognizes innovators and mentors the next generation.
Contact: Rachel Oswald, vice chair, NPC Press Freedom Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-486-9173
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SOURCE National Press Club