Nearly 300 days have passed since the arrest and imprisonment of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, but the publication doesn’t want you to forget.
Last week while world leaders gathered for the UN General Assembly, Al Jazeera took out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling on the Egyptian president to release Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed who were arrested in December 2013.
The ad read:
Al Jazeera’s journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been jailed for seven to ten years in Egypt for doing their jobs of reporting the news.
Human rights organizations, news networks, and the US government have joined the call for their release. But nearly 300 days later they still languish behind bars,” the ad read.
Egypt, isn’t it time you give them back their freedom?
A “FreeAJStaff” hashtag campaign was created when the men were first arrested to continue the awareness of what is considered an unjust detention of seasoned journalists.
The detention of these journalists has garnered substantial criticism internationally with The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urging authorities to “promptly release” the Al Jazeera staff. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was also highly critical, saying that he had met with President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi but that he seemed unmoved. Sisi later said that he would not interfere with the judicial rulings.
The entire judicial process in this case has been criticized from the beginning with many questioning the validity of the claims.
The three men were reporting in Cairo when they were arrested and charged with reporting news that was “damaging to national security.” All three men were found guilty and sentenced to between 7 and ten years in prison.
Most recently, President Barack Obama met with Sisi to talk about issues in the Middle East including the “rights to free speech and the rights of journalists,” said U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes to Al Jazeera.
“The president expressed his view that those journalists should be released,” he continued to say.
In addition to Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed, eleven other defendants were tried in absentia, including one Dutch and two British journalists. All of those who were absent were given 10-year sentences.