Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy is one of the journalists currently being detained in Egypt. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
Among them are Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian cameraman Baher Mohamed, who have been detained for more than a month, as well as Arabic-language journalist Abdullah Al Shami, who has been in custody for more than six months. They all work for Al-Jazeera and its sister networks.
The conference was an effort to raise awareness about the situation, and to get Canadians to speak out against Egypt's detention of the journalists. Other journalists around the world have been protesting their detention by tweeting with the hashtag #FreeAJStaff.
In a joint statement put out this afternoon, the CJFE and Al-Jazeera said:
"We ask the Egyptian authorities to stop their persecution and release all other detained journalists. We aspire that they be proponents of democracy by enabling reporters to carry out their professions without fear of retribution and by empowering diverse voices for the purpose of building a greater Egypt with tolerance, civil liberties and understanding."
Today's panel included a list of prominent figures in Canadian journalism. Strombo.com reached out to three of them for their thoughts:
Michelle Shephard, Board of Directors, CJFE and Toronto Star National Security reporter
"I worked alongside Peter [Greste] in Mogadishu last year and he's the type of journalist you really admire. He comes to stories with an open mind and brings incredible context and experience to his stories. For me that has just underscored how ludicrous these charges are. On my beat I see terrorism allegations often used as a political tool and clearly this is an example of censorship and an attack on the free press."
"As foreign journalists, we're keenly aware of how our local colleagues face restrictions much worse than we do, so I hope this protest, and raising awareness about the conditions in Egypt now, benefits all detained Egyptian journalists and political prisoners."
Tom Henheffer, Executive Director, CJFE
"The situation in Egypt at the moment is reprehensible. Freedom of expression can no longer be said to exist following the government’s actions. This is acutely demonstrated in the arrest of Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed, but it’s a much wider problem. The Egyptian government has charged 20 journalists from a variety of outlets, some local and some foreign, with terrorism-related crimes for doing nothing more than honestly doing their jobs. Many of these journalists have fled the country out of a legitimate fear."
"This campaign to free Fahmy and his colleagues will not stop or slow down until they are released."
Tony Burman, Former Managing Director, Al Jazeera English and Journalism Professor, Ryerson University
"Mohamed Fahmy is a very respected Canadian journalist who doesn't belong in an Egyptian military jail. It is shameful that the Canadian government isn't protesting this more aggressively with Egyptian authorities. And it's crucial for Canadians to tell our government that we expect them to do so."
Filmmaker John Greyson also spoke at the press conference about his experience being detained in an Egyptian prison last year. Along with fellow detainee Tarek Loubani, Greyson talked about that experience with George on the show earlier this season: