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NUJ welcomes release of Peter Greste

2 February 2015

The NUJ has welcomed the release of Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, after 400 days in an Egyptian jail, but said pressure must remain on the authorities to release his two colleagues and to highlight the number of domestic journalists in prison in Egypt.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"We are obviously delighted to hear of Peter's release, but while his colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed remain in an Egyptian  jail – together with a dozen other local journalists – the campaign must continue. The crackdown on journalists in Egypt is a travesty of justice and freedom of the press. They are being targeted, threatened and attacked for trying to report on events; for just doing their job."

A BBC report said that presidential sources said that Mohamed Fahmy, who holds dual Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, could be freed if he renounces his Egyptian nationality. But there are still concerns about Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian without dual nationality.

The NUJ has been part of a world-wide campaign to highlight the plight of the three men. Michelle Stanistreet, together with Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists, and Jeremy Corbyn MP, visited the Egyptian ambassador, Ashraf Elkholy, to lobby for the release of the Al-Jazeera journalists and to highlight concerns about the treatment of journalists in his country.

Jim Boumelha was part of a delegation, with the Federation of Arab Journalists and Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which met the Egyptian prime minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, on the 250th day of detention of the three journalists.

The IFJ has revealed that eight journalists have been killed in the country since June 2013; all were covering anti-government protests at the time of their death. Of the 220 journalists currently in jail around the world, 12 are imprisoned in Egypt, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

After their conviction in June last year, the three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail. On January 1, Egypt's Court of Cassation overturned the sentences and ordered a retrial, but there is still no indication of when that will be.

Tags: , egypt, peter greste, baher mohamed, mohamed fahmy, press freedom, al jazeera, journalists detained, journalists freed, journalists killed