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Friday, 27 September 2013

IPI executive director presses US over media freedom violations in Egypt

Bethel McKenzie says Egypt must release jailed journalists, end crackdown on media 

IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept 27, 2013 – Underscoring the challenges facing journalists in Egypt, International Press Institute (IPI) Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie today called on U.S. leaders to pressure the Egyptian government to live up to its international commitments to press freedom.

Egypt must release all detained reporters and editors, and lift its ban on broadcasts of national and international media, Bethel McKenzie said.

The Vienna, Austria-based IPI has repeatedly called for Egyptian authorities to respect their international commitments to press freedom since the crackdown on loyalists of deposed president Mohamed Morsi began on Aug. 14. Since then, Egyptian security forces have rounded up numerous journalists, including photographers and correspondents for international media. At least six journalists have been killed in Egypt since July 3, when Egypt’s military removed Morsi from power.

IPI has expressed concern that journalists have become scapegoats for both sides in Egypt’s unrest, most recently at a symposium on press freedom in Egypt, held in Geneva on  Sept. 19. But the Egyptian authorities have deliberately targeted foreign journalists and international media, ransacking offices of international news organisations and banning some broadcasters. Egyptian journalists have been jailed and foreign workers detained or expelled from the country.

IPI calls on the Egyptian government to:

  • Free all journalists who have been detained while carrying out their duties;
  • Reverse its moves to silence news organisations - whether they are Egyptian or international;
  • Launch an immediate investigation into those responsible for ordering the illegal destruction or confiscation of property belonging to journalists or news organisations;
  • Promptly investigate the killing of journalist Tamer Abdel-Raouf, who was shot dead on Aug. 19 when police fired on his car while passing a checkpoint in the northern governorate of Beheira.

“Concerted international action is also needed,” Bethel McKenzie told a news conference at the National Press Club also attended by Al Jazeera Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara. “Following the Camp David accords in 1978, the United States became a main supporter of the Egyptian army – providing $1.3 billion in military aid every year – or more than the total civilian aid Washington gives to Iraq every year.”

She added: “Washington must deliver the message to Cairo that attacks on journalists working in Egypt will not be tolerated. The American taxpayer should not be asked to subsidise a regime that brazenly violates freedom of expression and freedom of the press – norms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and international law.”

Foukara said that while journalists from Al Jazeera have been targeted in Egypt, so have media workers from other international news organisations. He called on the Egyptian authorities to abide by international press freedom standards and respect journalists’ right to report without fear of reprisal.

For more information, contact:

Timothy Spence | Senior Press Freedom Adivsor | tspence(at)freemedia.at | Tel: +43 1 512 90 11 | Mobile: +43 676 486 28 39

 
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