CAIRO: The Egyptian Defense Committee of Independent Press criticized Wednesday the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) annual roundup on abuse against journalists worldwide in which Egypt ranked fourth among the countries to crackdown on their journalists in 2014.
The roundup said that more than 178 citizen-journalists imprisoned worldwide in 2014, saying “President Sisi’s authoritarian regime in Egypt entered the top five in 4th position with 9%.”
“The roundup comes in the light in a series of flagrant practices of international organizations and committees, to achieve the political goals of regional and international evil powers, under the guise of monitoring press freedom in the world,” the Committee said in a statement.
The committee said the RWB report is based on “groundless” information provided by reporters “who are away from the journalistic reality.” The committee noted that there is no a reporter imprisoned over charges of libel crimes.
The Rapporteur of the Committee Beshir al-Adl called the Egyptian Syndicate of Journalists to reply to the RWB report.
RWB said that 46 journalists in Egypt have been arrested this year “on pretext are being Muslim brotherhood sympathizers, endangering national unity or inciting violence or riots. The political situation does not justify President Sisi’s repressive policies and the propaganda regime he has established.”
Egypt followed Ukraine in the list of the countries where the most journalists had been arrested. Throughout 2014, 66 journalists were killed, 119 others were kidnapped while 178 journalists were imprisoned worldwide, according to the roundup.
“The murders are becoming more and more barbaric and the number of abductions is growing rapidly, with those carrying them out seeking to prevent independent news coverage and deter scrutiny by the outside world. Exposed to such diverse forms of intimidation, twice as many journalists fled into exile this year as in 2013,” the round up read.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday that Egypt is one of the top ten “worst jailers of journalists,” ranking in 6th place.
“Egypt more than doubled its number of journalists behind bars to at least 12, including three journalists from the international network Al Jazeera,” the CPJ stated, adding that 220 journalists are behind the bars in 2014 comparing to 211 in 2013 and 232 in 2012.
“The two reports indicated that there is a crisis for journalists in Egypt and that is true… Egypt sees bad atmosphere for the journalists and the media,” Hazem el-Malah, Syndicate of Journalists member and coordinator of the Egyptian Initiative for Defense of Journalists’ Freedom, told The Cairo Post Thursday.
Twelve journalists have been killed since the January 25 Revolution as the journalists could be targeted from the security forces, Muslim Brotherhood supporters or by the demonstrating citizens during covering a protest, he added.
“As being a journalist, I fear to cover a protest because I may be shot, beaten or detained by anyone,” Malah continued.
He criticized some Egyptian journalists who slam the RWB and CPJ reports, saying “I’m astonished that some journalists, including members in the Syndicate, criticizing the reports as if the situation in Egypt were rosy.”
Malah said most of the journalists mix professional work with their politics, noting that many journalists in Egypt now cover political issues. Those journalists are taking the politics direction as that was reflected when editors in chief of national and some independent outles announced their “muzzling mouths statement,” he noted.
The statement says “journalists should not doubt the performances of state institutions, on top of which come the military, police and judiciary. News about the Muslim Brotherhood’s protests and specifically students’ demonstrations should not be exaggeratedly reported.”
The number of the detained journalists in Egypt has reached 12 persons; two of whom were arrested during Nov. 28 protests while the others were arrested in 2013, Journalists Against Torture organization told The Cairo Post Dec. 2.
At the end of November, 6 journalists were released after being arrested for few hours when they were covering anti-Mubarak protests over the charges of killing peaceful demonstrators during the January 25 Revolution being dropped, the organization added.
However, the Syndicate of Journalists formed five committees to discuss the journalists’ proposals concerning the new amendments to the Press Law; all journalists have called for the cancellation of imprisonment punishment over label crimes.