by La Shawn Pagán
With news of the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine and the on-going
battle for land in the Gaza strip flooding most of media outlets around the globe – three journalists
have been detained in Egypt since June 23 and barely anyone is talking about it.
Peter Greste from Australia, Mohamed Adel Fahmy a Canadian-Egyptian, and Egyptian Baher
Mohamed, all Al-Jazeera staff members – have been detained once again by Egyptian authorities.
This time under allegations of being affiliated with a terrorist organization that goes by the name of
the Muslim Brotherhood. Among the charges, they are being held for allegedly disseminating false
reports and defaming the reputation of Egypt.
However, this isn’t the first time Al-Jazeera journalists have been detained since the overthrow
of President Mursi’s rule. On December 29, 2013 Greste, Fahmy, and Mohamed were arrested
along with six other Al-Jazeera Staff members and held for months, but were released after the
international community came together to release them under the United Nations Freedom of
the Press Act. Once the word got out that journalists were being tortured for doing their jobs,
the international community came together to free them. It was only a matter of weeks before
#FreeAJStaff was trending on social media sites, putting pressure on Egyptian government – which
they did. Still, it wasn’t long before the persecution of media outlets began in Egypt once more.
According to Reporters without Borders, at least 65 journalists have been detained, with many more
being censored and other media outlets forcibly being closed by Egyptian authorities.
According to the petition that Reporters without Borders has been signed by 3,317 as of this report
– six journalists have been killed with complete impunity towards the perpetrators. Furthermore, the
organization which was founded in 1985 by journalists to not only spread the word about the right
of media freedom, but also offers psychological assistance to those who are assigned to dangerous
areas, reports that there is a constant persecution of journalists since the start of the Egyptian
revolution back in July 2011.
According to reports from The Guardian UK, the journalists have been sentenced between seven to
ten years on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security.
“Today we wish to announce we intend to appeal the verdict through the formal channels offered by
the Egyptian legal system,” Mike Greste, the younger brother of the award-winning journalist Peter
Greste said to reporters in Brisbane after the sentencing was carried out.
“At least part of our strength comes from the understanding that this isn’t just about those wrongly
convicted in our case. This is about press freedom, about freedom of speech, not just in Egypt, but
globally,” Greste wrote in a statement released to the press.
“If the authorities in Egypt can ride out the storm then others can too. Gratifyingly the world seems
to be behind us.”
Photo by Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire