Egypt's imprisonment of journalists at all-time high: CPJ

Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:00am GMT

By Ahmed Aboulenein

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is holding the highest number of journalists behind bars since record keeping began, using the pretext of national security to crack down on press freedoms, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday.

A prison census conducted by the CPJ on June 1 found at least 18 Egyptian journalists were being held in jail for reasons related to their reporting, the most in Egypt since the CPJ began recording data on imprisoned journalists in 1990.

"The threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics," the CPJ said in a report published on Thursday.

Khaled al-Balshy, the head of the freedoms committee of Egypt's press syndicate, said the number of journalists imprisoned was higher, putting it at more than 30.

"We are in the worst climate for journalism in Egypt's history," he told Reuters.

Reuters could not independently confirm the number in detention in Egypt.

CPJ said most of the journalists imprisoned are accused by the government of belonging to or being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designates as a terrorist group.

Authorities say the Brotherhood is a threat to national security and they deny allegations of abuses. Some of the journalists denied charges of links to the Brotherhood.   Continued...

Kenya-based foreign journalists demonstrate against the imprisonment of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, at the United Nations Environment programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi January 13, 2015, as a reception by Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry took place nearby.     REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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