IPI urges Egypt to release journalists
Foreign media organisations report continued detention of media workers following deadly security operations
VIENNA, Sept 2, 2013 - Egyptian authorities should immediately release three Al Jazeera journalists who were jailed during last month's nationwide crackdown on demonstrators, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today.
Security forces in the past month have rounded up numerous journalists, including photographers and correspondents for international media, in the aftermath of a crackdown on demonstrators loyal to the country's deposed President Mohamed Morsi. At least five journalists were killed in the days after forces moved in to crush anti-government demonstrations.
A spokesman for Al Jazeera told IPI that four of its journalists were released on Sept. 1, five days after they were arrested. Three other journalists for the news organisation were still being held and a fourth was being held for questioning on Sept. 1, the spokesman said.
"There has been a clear pattern by the Egyptian authorities to harass journalists, both Egyptians and foreign correspondents who are trying to cover the ongoing developments in Egypt," Alison Bethel McKenzie, IPI's executive director, said.
"While we are grateful that some of these journalists have been released unharmed, we cannot condone the continued targeting of media workers, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to muzzle reporters and silence independent reporting," added Bethel McKenzie, who will participate in a symposium in Geneva later this month on the challenges of media coverage in Egypt.
Egyptian authorities have defended their actions, which have included confiscation of cameras, computers and recording equipment, saying that in many cases the journalists failed get the proper media accreditation to work in the country. However, accredited news organisations, including Al Jazeera and Turkey's İhlas news agency, have had their offices raided and blocked.
In a statement, Al Jazeera said correspondent Wayne Hay, cameraman Adil Bradlow and producers Russ Finn and Mohammed Baher were freed on Sept. 1, five days after they were arrested in Cairo. They all worked for the news organisation's English service.
Shihab Elddin Shaarawi, an executive producer with Al Jazeera Mubasher, was arrested on Aug. 30, the news organisation said in a statement. Al Jazeera correspondent Abdullah al-Shami has been held in Egypt since Aug. 14 and Mohamed Badr, a cameraman for Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, has been under detention for more than a month.
Several Turkish journalists, including Tahir Osman Hamde of İhlas news agency, and the Cairo correspondent for Turkish state broadcaster TRT, Metin Turan, were also detained in August. Hamde was released, but the TRT correspondent remains in jail.
Media workers say journalists have become an easy target for both sides in the politically-tense environment in Egypt, where nearly 1,000 civilians and security forces died in clashes in August. Foreign journalists in particular have become popular targets because of their perceived bias in the country's sectarian rift, correspondents working in the country told IPI.
IPI has repeatedly called for Egypt's interim government to respect its international obligations to uphold press freedom and the safety of both Egyptian and foreign journalists who are covering the news.
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