President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must guarantee freedom of the press and information as well as releasing all detained journalists, said Reporters without Borders (RWB) in an open letter published on its website Thursday.
As the Egyptian constitution’s guarantor for the next four years, RWB said that Sisi is responsible for the protection of journalists, especially while covering protests.
The international organization listed violations against journalists since the military-led ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. It said that six journalists have been killed, making Egypt one of three deadliest countries for journalists in 2013, referring to a previous report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
RWB also said that more than 60 journalists have been detained, and that 17 journalists are currently detained and face various charges.
The letter specifically referred to what referred to by the press as the “The Marriott Cell Case,” in which three journalists working for Al-Jazeera English Cairo Bureau face terrorism charges.
The letter’s release coincides with the 11th court session of the journalists, who include Egyptian-Canadian bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Australian reporter Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed.
The letter also referred to Al-Jazeera Arabic’s hunger-striking journalist Abdullah al-Shamy, whose detention has been extended since last August without facing official charges. It was extended again today for a week.
“Reporters without Borders reminds you that, like other citizens, journalists must be treated fairly and justly, in ways that respect national and international judicial standards,” the letter said.
RWB also denonced what it considered to be a biased coverage of the presidential elections by some journalists, especially those who labelled voters who declined to vote as “traitors.”
“Although aware of the many challenges you face, we ask you as Egypt’s president to ensure that the new constitution is properly implemented and that Egypt respects its international obligations as regards fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of information,” the letter concluded.