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Open letter to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste: Fight Egypt's jailing of journalists

Irish journalists, academics, union leaders and lawyers urge Irish government to press for freedom of journalists in Cairo.

THREE DAYS AGO, three Al-Jazeera journalists were sentenced to long spells in prison in Egypt in a trial which has been condemned internationally for its lack of due process and evidence.

Seven media colleagues of jailed Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were also condemned by the court, even though they were not in attendance.

Today, the Irish government is being asked to intervene at EU and UN level and join the movement to have the jailed journalists freed and their sentences quashed.

NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley, commenting on the letter which is signed by journalists, academics, union leaders and lawyers, and is being published on TheJournal.ie and a range of other national media publications as a “letter to the editor”, says that the united stance reflects “the sense of outrage at the decision to drag journalists to court in a cage and to impose prison sentences simply because they carried out their duties as journalists”.

Letter to the Editor, addressed to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste,

The jailing of three Al Jazeera journalists and the sentencing in absentia of their colleagues by an Egyptian court represents in an attack on the right to freedom of expression which has rightly been universally condemned.

Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy have been sentenced to seven years in jail, while Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of ammunition. Mohamed was in possession of a spent bullet he found on the ground during a protest.

Their journalistic colleagues, Alaa Bayoumi, Anas Abdel-Wahab Khalawi Hasan, Khaleel Aly Khaleel Bahnasy, Mohamed Fawzi, Dominic Kane, Rena Netjes and Sue Turton have been sentenced to 10 years in absentia.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, Alaa Bayoumi, Anas Abdel-Wahab Khalawi Hasan, Khaleel Aly Khaleel Bahnasy, Mohamed Fawzi, Dominic Kane, Rena Netjes and Sue Turton are journalists. They are not terrorists. They are not criminals.

They are journalists who have been jailed for doing their jobs, convicted without a single shred of evidence by a court which displayed no respect for the prinicples of justice or fair procedure.

This is a violation of human rights which must be condemned by the international community.

We call on the Egyptian government to have these convictions overturned and to stop locking up journalists.

We also call on the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs to help make this case a priority at EU level and at the United Nations.

Journalists and media organisations must be free to pursue their professional duties without intimidation or fear. The imprisonment of these journalists represents an attack on all who demand a free, independent global media.

Signed:

  • Kevin Bakhurst, Managing Director, RTÉ News and Current Affairs.
  • David Begg, Irish Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
  • Ronan Brady, Griffith College, Dublin.
  • Jim Boumelha, President, International Federation of Journalists
  • Harry Browne, Dublin Institute of Technology.
  • Frank Connolly, journalist and SIPTU Head of Communications.
  • Gerry Curran, Cathaoirleach, Irish Executive Council, National Union of Journalists.
  • Susan Daly, Editor, TheJournal.ie.
  • Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, National Union of Journalists.
  • Dr Michael Foley, Dublin Institute of Technology.
  • Tom Felle, University of Limerick.
  • Dr Roddy Flynn, Dublin City University.
  • Prof. John Horgan, Press Ombudsman
  • Prof. Colum Kenny, Dublin City University.
  • Andrea Martin, Media Lawyer solicitors
  • Dr Des McGuinness, Dublin City University.
  • Prof. Paschal Preston, Director, COMTEC research unit, Dublin City University.
  • Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director, Amnesty International Ireland.
  • Daithi O Ceallaigh, Chairman, Press Council of Ireland.
  • Johnny O’Hanlon, Director, Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland
  • Dr John O’Sullivan, Dublin City University
  • Kevin O’Sullivan, Editor, The Irish Times.
  • Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary, National Union of Journalists,
  • Cliff Taylor, Editor, Sunday Business Post.
  • Martin Molony, Dublin City University
  • Robbie Smyth, Griffith College, Dublin
  • Stephen Rae, Editor-in-Chief, Independent News & Media, Ireland
  • Ian Mallon, Group Head of News, Independent News & Media, Ireland
  • John Kierans, Editor-in-Chief, Irish Daily Mirror and Irish Sunday Mirror
  • Simon McAleese, Managing Partner, McAlese Solicitors
  • Dr Roddy Flynn, Dublin City University
  • Bernadette O’Sullivan, National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Prof. Steven Knowlton, Dublin City University
  • William Tuke, Dublin City University
  • Shirley Bradshaw, Chair, RTE Trade Union Group
  • John Douglas, President, ICTU

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