CPJ urges Egypt to free jailed interpreter

May 23, 2008

His Excellency Habib al-Adly
Interior Minister
Al-Sheikh Rihan St.
Bab Al-Louk, Al-Tahrir
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt

By facsimile: +202 257-92031

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly protests the continued detention without charge of Mohammed Salah Ahmed Maree, an Egyptian media worker seized by Egyptian authorities while covering riots last month in the northern industrial city of Mahalla al-Kubra.

Maree, a 23-year-old veterinary student working as an interpreter for U.S. graduate school journalist James Buck, was detained along with Buck on April 10 as they reported on riots that began after authorities deterred textile workers at a state-owned factory from striking.

The following day, an Egyptian prosecutor ordered both men released. Buck was freed, but Maree was detained again moments later and has since remained in custody without charge or official explanation. According to Egyptian rights activists, Maree has been transferred to Borg al-Arab Prison in the suburbs of Alexandria, where he remains today.

The sole reason for Maree’s six-week detention appears to be his work as an interpreter for a journalist covering a major news story and, as such, flies in the face of the most basic norms for freedom of the press and the ability to gather and report the news. Maree’s open-ended detention without charge, due process, or even official acknowledgement of his whereabouts raises serious concerns about his safety. Local and international rights groups have documented the widespread use of torture and abuse of detainees in Egyptian prisons.

As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, we urge you to put an end Maree’s unjust detention and to ensure that he is released at once.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your reply.

Sincerely yours,

Joel Simon
Executive Director