National Press Club

National Press Club decries death penalty for Egyptian journalists

June 20, 2016 | By Ferdous al-Faruque | alfaruque@gmail.com

The National Press Club expressed deep concern Monday over the Egyptian government's decision to uphold death penalties for three journalists.

On June 18, a Cairo court confirmed Egypt's Grand Mufti had upheld the May 7 verdicts for the three journalists who had been accused of passing state secrets to Qatar. The reporters affected are: Ibrahim Helal, former director of news at Al Jazeera's Arabic channel; Alaa Sablan, a former Al Jazeera correspondent; and Asmaa Alkhatib, a journalist with the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Rassd News Network.

All three journalists were given the death penalty in absentia. Authorities could demand their extradition to execute them back in Egypt.

“The verdict shows the rest of the world the authorities continue to have a complete disregard for the freedom of the press, and are abusing the law to censor a free and independent news media,” said Club President Thomas Burr.

“Journalism is not a crime,'” Burr said. “As several human rights organizations have repeatedly stated, this was a sham trial, and the verdict will have a further chilling effect on the press in Egypt. We ask the Egyptian government to reconsider.”

It has been five years since protests in Egypt toppled the government of Hosni Mubarak and gave many in the country hope for a more democratic society. However, since then, journalists have come under increasing attacks from political forces as well as the government.

Egypt is one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The verdict is the latest evidence of the deteriorating situation there.

The National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists.

Through its Press Freedom Committee, the Club works to promote freedom of expression and transparency at home and abroad. The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a non-profit affiliate, equips news professionals with the skills to innovate, leverages emerging trends, recognizes innovators and mentors the next generation.

Contact: Ferdous al-Faruque, vice chairman, NPC Press Freedom Committee: 573-239-3343; alfaruque@gmail.com.