White House urges Egypt to release detained journalists

‘Restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt are a concern’, U.S. administration says

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The White House on Tuesday called on Egypt to release journalists and academics detained in the country, saying the matter is “of deep concern” to the U.S. administration.

“These figures, regardless of affiliation, should be protected and permitted to do their jobs freely in Egypt,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing, Reuters reported.

“We have strongly urged the government to drop these charges and release those journalists and academics who have been detained,” he added.

“The restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt are a concern, and that includes the targeting of Egyptian and foreign journalists and academics simply for expressing their views.”

It emerged last week that Egyptian prosecutors had referred 20 journalists working with Al-Jazeera television network to trial. The prosecution did not at the time reveal the identities of those being detained.

Australian Peter Greste, the Canadian-Egyptian bureau chief for Jazeera English in Cairo Mohamed Adel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were arrested on December 29 in a Cairo hotel.

Prosecutors have accused the trio of filming security installations, threatening public order and peace, and working without a permit, AFP reported.

Fahmy was accused of belonging to a “terrorist” group, identified by authorities as the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

Fahmy, a well-known journalist in Cairo who previously worked with CNN, has no known ties with the Brotherhood.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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