CMG is adding its condemnation to the chorus of outrage over Egypt’s unfounded conviction of journalist Mohamed Fahmy and his colleagues. All the three journalists working for Al Jazeera are guilty of is doing is journalism, brave journalism.
The seven to 10-year conviction for “aiding terrorists” is another sad indication of how a job that should be respected and protected, has become increasingly unsafe in many parts of the world, with dozens of journalists killed, arrested or jailed every year just because a “powerful, political force” does not want information to come out.
This sentence sends a clear message to everyone in Egypt, not to speak up. Ever.
In this age of information overload, we rely on journalists more than ever, because there is so much out there, we need journalists to do their newsgathering work and provide what’s factual, objective and sourced. The proud tradition of exposing injustice and getting the facts should not mean sacrificing personal freedom, or a death sentence. So I am troubled the Canadian government didn’t do more to resolve this outrage. What a missed opportunity for our Foreign Minister John Baird! We expected him to rally to Fahmy’s support more firmly against this “trial” and demand justice for a Canadian. I wanted more from Ottawa. Given the crucial role of information in maintaining a democracy, and the clear message this sham trial sends journalist and particularly foreign correspondents, I think we have to find more ways to ensure reporters have more protection, not less.
Twenty-eight journalists have been killed this year alone. There are 167 journalists imprisoned around the world today, China, Syria and Eritrea are the worst, with Egypt ranked 159 out of 180 for press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders.
So let’s fight for a Presidential pardon for Fahmy, and let’s press our government to do more for Fahmy’s release.