Press freedom is now el-Sisi’s choice

Egypt’s newly elected leader, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, will have to face many challenges as president, including the real crisis that confronts freedom of the press in the country. Things were never good for the press in Egypt, but they have worsened significantly since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted last summer. As CPJ wrote in a letter before the election to el-Sisi and his now defeated opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, at least six journalists have been killed since Morsi’s ouster and 16 journalists are currently imprisoned. Dozens more have been detained and released, creating a climate of fear and repression that has dampened the ability of journalists to cover political developments and the most recent election.

As Egypt’s newly elected president, el-Sisi is in a unique position to shape Egypt’s future. Sisi’s backers hoped the vote would legitimize a new government and mend strained international relations by proving that Egypt is on the path of reform. The jailing of journalists undermines these goals.

Here is a list (in both English and Arabic) of 16 journalists imprisoned in Egypt as of May 19, 2014. All of them were arrested after Morsi’s ouster. All of them should be released. While Egypt’s judiciary is constitutionally independent, we urge the president-elect to do everything in his power to make sure that these imprisoned journalists are set free and that no others are imprisoned under his tenure.