CJFE outraged by attack on press freedom and free expression

Al Jazeera journalists convicted of terrorism for reporting in Egypt

TORONTO, June 23, 2014 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is incensed by Egypt's conviction of three Al Jazeera journalists on charges of terrorism. The result of a corrupt trial void of any substantive evidence, this conviction undermines Egypt's constitutional protections for press freedom.

After 177 days in detention, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste were each sentenced to seven years in prison, while their Egyptian colleague Baher Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years, as he was also charged for possession of ammunition.

"This conviction serves as a direct attack on press freedom in Egypt," said CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer. "This is a corrupt system making a political move to warn other journalists and Egyptian citizens that honest and objective reporting on the country's political climate will not be tolerated."

While Australian authorities have been extremely vocal in calling for the release of Greste, there has been less public support for Fahmy's release from Canadian officials. This is a marked shift from the strong public stance the federal government took in calling for the release of John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, detained in Egypt in 2013.

CJFE calls on the Canadian government to lead the creation of a coalition of supporting countries to pressure Egypt to reverse the conviction of these three journalists. CJFE also calls on Egyptian President al-Sisi to pardon the journalists and uphold the right to press freedom and free expression in Egypt.

"Now, more than ever, it is imperative that the Canadian government stand up for its citizens and defend the universal right to free expression," Henheffer concluded.

Interested individuals and organizations are invited to visit cjfe.org/AlJazeera for a template letter to send to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, and Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular) Lynne Yelich, encouraging them to call on al-Sisi to pardon the three journalists.

CJFE and Al Jazeera have been working together since the journalists were detained in late December to campaign for their release. The high-profile trial has garnered worldwide attention, including a global day of action and a joint statement from major international media calling for the journalists' release.

For more details on the case, CJFE has produced a detailed timeline covering events from their arrest through to their conviction.

About CJFE

CJFE monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, we promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights.

SOURCE: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

For further information: and to request interviews, please contact: Tom Henheffer, Executive Director, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, 647-992-4630, thenheffer@cjfe.org

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