Journalism is not a crime

Join individuals around the world in showing your support for Al Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt. (CNW Group/Canadian Journalists for Free Expression)

JOIN AL JAZEERA ENGLISH AND CANADIAN JOURNALISTS FOR FREE EXPRESSION (CJFE) FOR A VIGIL ON A GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION IN SUPPORT OF PRESS FREEDOM, THURSDAY FEBRUARY 27

TORONTO, Feb. 20, 2014 /CNW/ -

Where: Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square at 12:00 Noon.  There will be T-Shirts, banners, famous journalists.  Theme:  Journalism is NOT a crime. #FreeAJstaff

Three Al Jazeera English journalists are being tried in Cairo, simply for doing their jobs.  Charged with "spreading false news", Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed have been imprisoned in Egypt since December 29th, 2013.  They have experienced solitary confinement, torture and denial of medical treatment.  Along with other journalists accused of such crimes in today's Egypt, they are our colleagues and friends and WE DEMAND THEIR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

Canada can help get them out.  Here's how:

TAKE A SELFIE (see above), add #FREEAJSTAFF and tweet it with a message of support. Thousands of others already have, all over the world.

SIGN THE PETITION and JOIN US on February 27 as we show our solidarity with these journalists and affirm that journalism is NOT a crime.

What the world is saying:

Jay Carney, White House Spokesperson: "…drop the charges and release those journalists and academics who have been detained"

U.S. State Department:  Egypt's "targeting of journalists and others on spurious claims is wrong and demonstrates an egregious disregard for the protection of basic rights and freedoms"

William Hague, British Foreign Secretary:  Egypt must "demonstrate its commitment to…. full freedom of expression and for journalists to operate without fear of persecution."

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay: "It is not a crime to carry a camera, or to try to report the truth. I have urged the Egyptian authorities to promptly release all journalists and other media employees imprisoned for carrying out legitimate news reporting activities, including Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed."

What Canadians are saying:

John Greyson, Toronto Filmmaker detained for 50 days in Tora prison in 2013:

"The journalists need to be freed immediately.  Mohamed and the others are respected internationally. They are senior journalists who are in Egypt doing their job."

Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent: "I met Mohamed Fahmy just … in 2011. I noticed him immediately. He was always on the scene, in the crowds, on his phone.   We were trying to keep ahead of MF in the news game … and always failing. Free Mohamed Fahmy.  We need him."

Peter Mansbridge, CBC Chief Correspondent: "It's not right. It's not fair. It's something that affects all journalists. It's not just those at Al Jazeera who clearly were impacted by this.  But any journalist who wants to tell the story of what's unfolding in Egypt will feel a chill because of that."

Michael Cooke, Editor in Chief, Toronto Star: "These journalists are bona fide.  They're all doing good work. They are not spreading false news.  Everyone outside of that clique in Egypt knows that these charges are nonsense. Canada needs to speak out loudly and it hasn't so far"

John Stackhouse, Editor-in-chief, The Globe and Mail:  "It's unfortunate, even tragic for Egypt and it's not something the world should just stand by and watch idly. "

Tom Henheffer, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression "Mohamed Fahmy is unjustly being detained and it is time to call for his release.. He went to school in Montreal, he is a Canadian Citizen, he's a Habs fan.  He was supposed to get married this month and he was planning on resettling back in Canada. He considers Canada home and it's time to bring him home."

SOURCE Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Image with caption: "Join individuals around the world in showing your support for Al Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt. (CNW Group/Canadian Journalists for Free Expression)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140220_C6106_PHOTO_EN_36966.jpg

For further information:

Daniel Lak, AJE Canada Correspondent 416 822 8044 | Daniel.lak@aljazeera.net
Jet Belgraver, AJE Senior Producer 416 543 7775 | Jet.belgraver@aljazeera.net
Tom Henheffer, CJFE Executive Director 416 515 9622 x. 226 | thenheffer@cjfe.org
Alex Zakreski, CJFE Programs Assistant 416 515 9622 x. 262 | azakreski@cjfe.org