Candlelight vigil calling for journalists’ release
Snapshot from Youtube video

CAIRO: A number of journalists organized Wednesday a candlelight vigil outside the Journalists’ Syndicate, calling for the release of their imprisoned colleagues.

The participants carried signs saying “Journalism is not a crime” and “Freedom for All Journalists.”

Some of the protesters dressed in Santa Claus outfit; they repeated chants like: “We are journalists not criminals,” “No for jailing journalists” and “Release our brothers from prison.”

Video of a protest by journalists outside the Journalists’ Syndicate, Dec.30, 2015- YOUM7

At least 32 journalists are currently in prison, with most charges not related to their job, Khaled el-Balshy, head of committee of liberties at the syndicate, said during the protest.

Balshy referred to some journalists whose health status has deteriorated inside prison, adding that they are not receiving adequate treatment for chronic conditions. He further signaled current efforts to help release imprisoned journalists from jail.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, has been held in prison for over two years; Shawkan’s condition has deteriorated as he has developed Hepatitis C virus and reportedly has not received sufficient medical care. His case is yet to be considered before court in February.

Egypt ranked the second worst jailer of journalists in 2015, according to the latest report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ.)

A network of 81 Egyptian lawyers tasked with defending journalists and bloggers subjected to violations while doing their job was launched Dec.27.

With the lawyers covering many governorates, reaching out journalists in need of legal assistance is hoped to be much easier and faster through the network, according to interviews conducted by The Cairo Post Thursday.

Additional reporting by Nourhan Magdi

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