Some of the biggest names in news have rallied behind Al Jazeera’s campaign for the release of staff jailed in Egypt, asking their viewers in a video message to imagine a world without a free media.
The video, produced for the #FreeAJStaff campaign, features CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, ITN’s Mark Austin and Julie Etchingham, Channel 7 Australia’s Mark Ferguson, and Al Jazeera English’s Shiulie Ghosh.
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“Imagine a world where reality is distorted, imagine being kept in the dark about major world events, and imagine being silenced when speaking out could save your life,” the journalists say.
The video has been released before the court appearance in Cairo on Monday of Al Jazeera English’s Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy. They have been held in custody for three months accused of “spreading false news” and “belonging to a terrorist group” for reporting on Mohamed Morsi’s removal from the presidency by the army.
Al Jazeera strongly rejects the charges and calls for the immediate release of its staff.
|The #FreeAJStaff photo campaign has gone viral [Al Jazeera]
The Twitter hashtag #FreeAJStaff – often used to post photos of journalists with taped mouths to symbolise being silenced – has now had over 786 million impressions since it was launched in February.
Expressing gratitude for the global show of solidarity, Al Jazeera English’s managing director, Al Anstey, said: “We are very grateful to our colleagues around the world for their support of our staff detained in Egypt. Mohamed, Baher, and Peter are world-class journalists and are in detention for simply doing their job.”
“We have seen massive support for them and for journalism from all corners of the globe, so the message of this film is clear – journalism matters and people have a right to be heard and to be informed,” he added.
Egypt’s interim president and chief justice, Adly Mansour, sent a letter to Greste’s parents saying he would “spare no effort to work towards the speedy resolution of the case”.
A fourth Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah al-Shami, has been held in Egypt for more than six months and has been on hunger strike since January 23.
Shami’s detention was extended for an additional 45 days on March 13. Another Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Badr, was arrested on July 15 and released on February 5, when he was acquitted of a series of charges including being involved in the protests in Cairo’s Ramses Square.
You can find and share the video here.