Protesters in Nairobi march on Tuesday to demand the release of Al-Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt. (Photo: REUTERS/George Philipas)
Al Jazeera has called a press conference for this Thursday, February 6, in Toronto to call for the immediate release of the journalists currently being detained in Egypt.
Egyptian authorities issued warrants for 20 journalists working in Egypt on charges of broadcasting false news in the service of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The charges also included fabricating news reports and tarnishing Egypt's reputation abroad.
Journalists from Al-Jazeera and its sister channels have remained in detention since last year, including Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy.
This week a video showing the interrogation of Fahmy and Australian journalist Peter Greste was broadcast on Egyptian television (on a private channel that supports the current Egyptian government).
Al-Jazeera condemns the video. In a statement, Salah Negm, director of news for Al Jazeera English, said: "People who look beyond the propaganda...will see the video shows what we have been saying all along – that our crew were journalists doing their job."
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Robert Colville, has called for the release of the detained foreign journalists. In a statement, he said: "We urge the Egyptian authorities to promptly release all journalists imprisoned for carrying out legitimate news reporting activities in exercise of their fundamental human rights."
Journalists around the world are petitioning the Egyptian government to release their detained colleagues. The campaign began on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeAJStaff, with journalists showing solidarity by posting pictures of themselves bound up and their mouths taped over in reference to freedom of speech.
In Nairobi, where Greste was stationed, nearly 100 journalists and their supporters marched through the streets on Tuesday before stationing themselves outside the Egyptian embassy.
The press conference in Toronto on Thursday, chaired by Canada correspondent for Al Jazeera English Daniel Lak, will feature a panel of prominent journalists, including:
- Owen Watson (Executive Producer for Newsgathering, Al Jazeera English)
- Tony Burman (Former Managing Director, Al Jazeera English and Journalism Professor, Ryerson University)
- John Stackhouse (Editor-in-Chief, The Globe and Mail)
- Olivia Ward (Foreign Affairs Reporter, Toronto Star)
- Tom Henheffer (Executive Director, CJFE)
- John Greyson (Filmmaker and Professor, York University)
- Avi Lewis (Journalist)
- Michelle Shephard (Board member, CJFE and National Security Reporter, Toronto Star)
- Dave Enders (Friend and former colleague of Mohamed Fahmy)
Stay tuned for more information later this week.