US Senator John McCain has condemned the imprisonment of five Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, calling their detention “a clear violation” of their human rights and of press freedom.
“Al Jazeera has been chronicling events in Egypt, probably more intensively than any other world network,” McCain told Al Jazeera on Friday.
|Al Jazeera’s staff remain in detention|
“For the Egyptian government to keep them in prison, I think, is another indicator that this military government, and that’s really what it is, is not keeping with the standards of international behaviour that we would expect.”
Three Al Jazeera English staff members – producer Baher Mohamed, correspondent Peter Greste and producer Mohammed Fahmy – have been held since December 29. They are accused of spreading lies harmful to state security and joining a terrorist group – allegations Al Jazeera says are totally unfounded.
Two journalists from sister channels Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr are also being held. Abdullah Al Shami is a reporter and Mohamed Bader is a cameraman. They have been detained for five months.
“My message to the Egyptian government, and I know these people, is and has been: if you want to be part of the community of nations and have our cooperation and assistance, then you cannot engage in practices such as the arbitrary imprisonment of members of the media,” McCain said.
Their detention has also been raised in the UK parliament.
Jeremy Corbyn from the opposition Labour party is expressing concern over their safety, and is calling on the British government to take action.
Scores of journalists worldwide, along with organisations involved in media freedom, have joined the call for their release including: the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the International News Safety Institute.