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Sentencing of Al Jazeera journalists – 30 August 2015

“The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), The African Editors Forum (TAEF), the African Media Initiative (AMI) and delegates of the 19th session of Highway Africa Conference meeting at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, express our collective shock at the sentencing on Saturday of three Al Jazeera journalists by an Egyptian court sitting in Cairo. Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were arrested in 2013 and accused of colluding with the Brotherhood, a party that supported the ousted democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi. Greste, who is Australian, was sentenced in absentia after being deported earlier this year.
Sanef last year met with the Egyptian ambassador in Pretoria and handed a note of protest calling for the release of the journalists and insisting that their arrest was a violation of freedom of expression and of Egypt’s commitment to media freedom in line with the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights.
We, delegates of this biggest gathering of African journalists condemn the continuing repression of media by the military junta ruling Egypt today and call for the release of the journalists and all other detainees being held unjustly. We call on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to live up to his stated promise to reverse any conviction of the journalists through a pardon. We further call on African governments to join in this call and do all in their power to force the Egyptian rulers to live by the commitments Egypt made by being a member of the African Union and committing itself to democracy, justice and fairness. We call on the African Union Commission and its Chairperson, Madam Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to intervene and get the journalists and other detainees released immediately. We believe it would be crime that cries to the high heavens if Fahmy will only be able to taste freedom by forsaking his African identity and citizenship and solely embracing his Canadian dual citizenship.
For more enquiries you can contact:
Mathatha Tsedu
Sanef Executive Director