The Global Day of Action for Press Freedom has ended – but the battle is ongoing, as Al Jazeera journalists remain in detention in Egypt over allegations fiercely denied by the Qatar-based network.
The four Al Jazeera staffers are not alone in their persecution – journalists all over the world are imprisoned for doing their jobs.
On Thursday, February 27, journalists and members of the public came out in support of the detained journalists, calling for their freedom, and demanding a return to freedom of the press in Egypt.
Freedom of speech in Egypt has been the focus of mounting global concern since the government adopted a hardline approach towards journalists. The country was ranked the third-deadliest destination for journalists in 2013 by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Al Jazeera Arabic’s Abdullah Al Shami has been held since August 2013 without charge, and has been on hunger strike in protest since January 21. Three Al Jazeera English journalists – Baher Mohammed, Mohammed Fahmy and Peter Greste – were detained on December 29. Their next court hearing is on March 5.
Al Jazeera Media Network’s acting Director General Mostefa Souag thanked those who took part in the day of action around the world.
“We are grateful for all the solidarity everyone has shown, but we know also that this is not just about us at Al Jazeera. People are speaking out as loudly and clearly as they are because of what this means for press freedoms,” he said.
“There are two courses of action the Egyptian authorities must take to resolve this situation. Firstly, they should remove Abdullah Elshamy from a mass case involving 700 people they swept up during a demonstration last August. He must be treated as a journalist, and released immediately.
“Secondly, the charges against Mohammed, Baher, and Peter should be dropped at next week’s hearing.”