Al Jazeera renews call demanding press freedom

New campaign comes year after three Gulf countries and Egypt attempted to close network as part of anti-Qatar blockade.

Al Jazeera is renewing its demand for press freedom, one year after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE launched a blockade against Qatar and called for the Doha-based network to be shut down.

The Demand Press Freedom campaign launched on Friday.

In the coming months, the network will host a series of events and international forums to highlight the condition of journalists arrested across the world, assaults on media organisations, and attempts to silence the press.

“Al Jazeera may be the one media organisation which has suffered the most and has been targeted for its professional reporting,” said Mostefa Souag, Al Jazeera Media Network’s acting director.

“Our journalists have been threatened, imprisoned, tortured, and killed, our offices have been bombed, our signals have been blocked, our websites hacked, and our social media accounts taken down. We continue to support press freedom and highlight the suffering of journalists and media professionals around the world.”

In June 2017, the anti-Doha quartet issued Qatar a list of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera Media Network, which it alleged was a platform for extremists. 

In the same month, there were attempts to hack the network’s websites and digital platforms, though none were compromised.

Al Jazeera denied all the accusations against it while Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the network was off the table in any Gulf crisis talks.

“Al Jazeera renews its calls for the safety and protection of journalists worldwide and calls on governments to adhere to international covenants, treaties and legal obligations,” said Souag.

The new campaign comes as media organisations and individual journalists across the world are under increasing pressure.

According to Reporters Without Borders, 35 journalists have been killed so far this year – at least 11 of them in Afghanistan.

At least 168 journalists are languishing in jail worldwide, according to the media rights group.

Source: Al Jazeera