Release journalists from prison in Egypt!
TODAY AT LEAST 25 journalists are held in Egyptian prisons. Nine of these are members of the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate (union) - which has a complex membership system. The others are not eligible to apply for membership.
This is happening at the time of the anniversary of the revolution in Egypt on 30 June 2013, when the Egyptian people rose against the late President Mohamed Morsi due to many issues with his government. At that time, many experts believed that early presidential elections were an appropriate way out of the darkness that might have fallen on Egypt following the Tahrir Square protests of 2013. President Morsi was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement founded in 1928 that had built support by providing services in communities neglected by governments, despite being banned for much of the time before Morsi took power in 2012. The regime rejected the Brotherhood in a coup following the 2013 protests.
Those now detained include the international researcher Ismail Al-Iskandarani, who received several international fellowships in combating extremism in Sinai. He is famous for being a strong opponent of the policies of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and is now languishing in an Egyptian prison - accused of being affiliated with the Brotherhood. When it came to power in 2012 he concluded that he could not live safely in Egypt under its rule and chose to live in self-exile abroad.
After successive periods of pre-trial detention, Al-Iskandarani is now serving a military sentence. During his imprisonment Al-Iskandarani was deprived of his human right to bid farewell to his mother, who died after a painful struggle with cancer. Despite being a well-known international journalist who has spoken at many press conferences related to terrorism, Al-Iskandarani not yet obtained membership in the Journalists Syndicate.
Hala Fahmy presented several national television programs. She is is not registered with the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. She was taken into pre-trial detention - supposed to last 15 days -- on 26 April.
Fahmi is facing charges of spreading false news and joining a terrorist group. These are a result of her demands to return workers' rights in the Maspero National Television building and the evidence she presented. In addition, the prosecution raised her publications on Facebook in solidarity with workers' demands on national television.
And, despite a reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar, the Egyptian authorities are still holding Hisham Abdel Aziz, a journalist with the Qatari-funded Al-Jazeera channel.
The authorities are also holding journalist Hisham Fouad, who works for the Sputnik agency in Cairo. Fouad is an official member of the Syndicate of Journalists. His detention, alongside several activists and economists, is known in the media in Egypt as the "Al-Amal" case - Al-Amal meaning “hope” in Arabic.
Also detained is Mustafa Al-Khatib, Cairo correspondent for the US Associated Press agency and a member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. Al-Khatib was arrested in October 2019 after the agency published his report about eight students from the University of Edinburgh leaving Cairo after the security services arrested two other British students in Egypt.
Here we report the detention of some journalists with liberal or secular backgrounds. The situation must be worse for those who have Islamic backgrounds or worked for press agencies such as the “alternative news network” Rassd or Turkey's Andolu agency.