CPJ calls on Egypt to free Al-Jazeera journalists

New York, February 11, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Egyptian authorities to drop the charges against imprisoned Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, whose retrial is scheduled to begin on Thursday. A court said it had ordered the retrial because of lack of evidence leading to their conviction of “conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood,” which the government has declared a terrorist organization, according to news reports. In June 2014, Fahmy was sentenced to seven years and Mohamed to 10 years.

“Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were doing their jobs as journalists and there is no reason that either of them should have spent a single day in jail,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “We call on Egyptian authorities to drop the charges against the two Al-Jazeera journalists and release them, as well as all of their colleagues in prison, and reform the laws that put them there.”

Earlier this month, a third Al-Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, an Australian citizen, was released from prison following a presidential decree issued in November that allows foreign prisoners to be deported, according to news reports. The move sparked hopes that Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian who renounced his Egyptian citizenship, would be freed, news reports said. At least 11 journalists, including Fahmy and Mohamed, are behind bars in Egypt, according to CPJ research. CPJ produced the documentary “Under Threat” in 2014, highlighting the risks journalists face inside the country.