Target: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlib, Egypt
Goal: Drop charges against journalists that reported on Egypt’s military coup
Twenty journalists have been detained for their coverage of Egypt’s political unrest and coup d’etat. They face charges of joining or aiding a terrorist organization called the Muslim Brotherhood, members of which were previously in power before the military coup. Each journalist faces a different combination of charges, with possible punishments ranging from 3-20 years imprisonment if convicted.
The journalists, some of which have been reporting in Egypt for over 25 years, assert that they have employed the same objectivity as always, and that they have no political affiliation with either side of the conflict. Egypt is ranked in the worst ten countries for jailing journalists, and is considered the third most dangerous country for journalism. While the public prosecutor claims that the journalists published lies that harmed national interests, human rights organizations fear that it is another attempt at censorship by the Egyptian government.
The journalists have been kept in poor conditions and have been denied rights throughout their detention. One was not allowed access to medical care for a severe shoulder injury sustained shortly before his arrest. They are being denied time outside, and must spend 24 hours a day inside their mosquito-infested cells, which are not even equipped with a sleeping mat. They are also denied pencils, paper, and other diversions available to the rest of the prisoners.
Not only is Egypt conducting a war on journalism, but also a war on free speech in general. The journalists in question, along with countless others, were arrested simply for doing their jobs as usual, and prosecuted in an attempt to silence and intimidate members of the media. Demand that these twenty journalists be immediately released from detention and that all charges against them be dropped.
Dear Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlib,
In just three months, 20 journalists that reported on Egypt’s military coup have been detained. The journalists have been accused of joining or aiding terrorist organizations, while Egypt’s public prosecutor claims that they harmed national interests by publishing lies. While awaiting trial for their charges, they have been imprisoned under poor conditions, denied access to medical care and diversions such as outdoor time or pencils and papers.
The journalists, many from prominent worldwide news organizations, assert to have exercised the same impartiality that is expected with every news story. Egypt is currently in currently listed in the ten wost countries for imprisoning journalists, and has detained countless other journalists under similarly arbitrary charges. I demand that freedom of the press be restored in Egypt by releasing these and other journalists, and by dropping all charges against them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: grafixtek via Flickr Creative Commons