New York, June 18, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release from prison this week of two Egyptian journalists and calls on authorities to release at least 14 journalists still behind bars, including three Al-Jazeera journalists whose trial continues on Monday. Abdullah al-Shami, reporter for Al-Jazeera who was jailed without charge, was released on Tuesday in connection with his deteriorating health, and Karim Shalaby, reporter for Al-Masder, was freed on Monday after a court acquitted him of charges that included protesting illegally.
“Egypt’s newly elected president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, has an opportunity to reverse the drastic decline in the country’s press freedom record by doing all he can to ensure that journalists are set free from jail,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Releasing all imprisoned journalists and allowing them to report freely and safely would be a resounding signal that Egypt is changing course.”
Egypt was on CPJ’s 2013 Risk List, which highlights countries where press freedom is on the decline. At least five journalists were imprisoned in Egypt in 2013, according to CPJ’s prison census. Dozens of others have been detained since then, and many were released. This month, CPJ urged el-Sisi to do everything in his power to ensure the release of the 16 journalists in prison as he took office. CPJ joined the global #FreeAJStaff campaign along with other press freedom groups and journalists.