Networks call for release of Al Jazeera staff

BBC, NBC, ABC, Reuters, ITN and Sky issue joint statement calling for the release of journalists jailed in Egypt.

News networks join growing call for the release of Al Jazeera's staff from Egypt's Tora Prison [Al Jazeera]

News networks around the world have signed a joint letter that calls for the release of Al Jazeera’s jailed journalists in Egypt.

The letter was signed on Tuesday by senior staff at the BBC, NBC, ABC, Reuters, ITN and Sky News, adding to a growing number of international calls for the release of the incarcerated journalists.

James Harding, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, John Ryley, Sky’s head of news, and Jon Williams, the ABC’s managing editor of international news are among those who signed the letter. 

“We think the Egyptian authorities are profoundly mistaken in their actions,” the letter states. “We think Egypt’s move is deeply damaging to the future of impartial journalism in the country and that its actions are unjust, and unacceptable.”

Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste, Mohammad Fahmy and Baher Mohammad have been held in Egypt’s Tora Prison since December 29 and are charged with “spreading false news” and having links to “terrorist organisations”.

These charges became possible when Egypt’s government officially declared the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation” on December 25.

‘Should be set free’

“Even talking to them becomes an act of treason, let alone broadcasting their news, however benign,” Greste wrote from prison.

“Peter Greste and his colleagues should be set free so that they can continue with the kind of impartial, balanced reporting he has so eloquently defended from his prison cell” the joint letter states.

Twenty journalists face charges in Egypt. Sixteen are Egyptians who stand accused of belonging to a “terrorist organisation” and four others are foreigners accused of assisting a “terrorist organisation” and disseminating false news.

Al Jazeera’s journalists are scheduled to appear in an Egyptian court on February 20.

The Qatar-based news network strongly rejects all charges against its staff.

Source: Al Jazeera