National Press Club Calls for Immediate Release of Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalists

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Press Club called today for the immediate release of five Al Jazeera journalists held prisoner in Egypt.

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"The ongoing imprisonment of these men and the continuing efforts of the Egyptian government to suppress Al Jazeera's reporting should be seen as anathema to supporters everywhere of the public's right to an independent and critical press," National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane said.

The club lends its voice to those of other news organizations and free-press groups—including Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists--in speaking out against the Egyptian government's crackdown on Al Jazeera's news-gathering efforts.

Three Al Jazeera journalists were arrested in Egypt on Dec. 29 and ordered to spend 15 more days in custody: the company's acting Cairo bureau chief, Mohamed Fahmy; network correspondent Peter Greste; and network producer Baher Mohamed, according to the company. Egyptian authorities have accused the men of disseminating lies and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo has branded a terrorist organization.

Another two journalists with the Qatar-based news organization have been in custody for more than five months. They are: Abdullah Al Shami, a correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic; and Mohamed Badr, a cameraman with the network's Egypt affiliate. Badr was arrested in July while covering a demonstration and could be sentenced to as many as 15 years, according to Reporters Without Borders. He was supposed to learn the verdict in his case last week, but the court delayed sentencing until early next month.

When a McClatchy reporter managed a brief visit with Fahmy earlier this month, she reported that the veteran journalist said he was being held in dark and solitary confinement and had to sleep on the floor after prison officials would not allow him to use the sleeping bag his attorneys sent over. A previous shoulder injury was getting worse since he has been denied access to medical treatment, he said.

Through its Press Freedom Committee, the National Press Club monitors issues of press freedom and transparency worldwide and regularly speaks out in defense of these values.

The NPC, founded in 1908, is located in Washington, D.C., and is the world's leading professional organization for journalists.

Contact: Rachel Oswald, Vice Chairwoman, NPC Press Freedom Committee (roswald@nationaljournal.com), 202-486-9173.

SOURCE National Press Club




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