Harsh sentence in Egypt daunting for the press

New York, June 11, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the 15-year jail sentence given today to Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah, and at least 24 other defendants, on charges of attacking a police officer and protesting the government’s ban on unsanctioned protests. Dozens of critical voices, including journalists and political and human rights advocates, are behind bars in Egypt.

“These harsh sentences are very disappointing, as they are sure to further chill the climate for free expression in Egypt and intimidate journalists into silence,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “We call on Egypt’s new administration to stop the crackdown on critical voices, release jailed journalists, and let public debate flow freely.”

Last week, CPJ urged Egypt’s newly elected president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to do everything in his power to ensure the release of the at least 16 journalists in prison. More than 65 journalists have been detained since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July, according to CPJ research. Most have been freed.