National Press Club

Making A Difference for Press Freedom

Myron Belkind | September 29, 2014

Al Jazeera reporter Abdullah Elshamy (center) with NPC president Myron Belkind (right) and John M. Donnelly, chair of the NPC Freedom of the Press Committee (left).

Al Jazeera reporter Abdullah Elshamy (center) with NPC president Myron Belkind (right) and John M. Donnelly, chair of the NPC Freedom of the Press Committee (left).

Photo: Brent Gwathney

Do statements by the National Press Club on freedom of the press make a difference?

Yes, they do!

So says Abdullah Elshamy, the Al Jazeera journalist who visited the NPC last Friday to talk about being held in an Egyptian prison for 10 months, half of them on a hunger strike, until his release last June on medical grounds.

"Statements by the National Press Club and other news outlets here in the United States and across the globe really helped in my release," Elshamy said.

He said the statements put pressure on the Egyptian government and contributed to his "walking free and being here today."

See Elshamy's statement in the video below:

Even while speaking about his own freedom, his focus continued to be on 11 journalists still held in Egypt, including three from Al Jazeera who are serving prison terms ranging from seven to 10 years. He urged that statements calling for their release should "continue as much as possible" in the hope that they will "hopefully lead to something very soon."

Elshamy, 26, also spoke of his pride of being a journalist.

"Our job is to tell the truth," he said. See Elshamy speak on the importance of a free press, not just in Egypt but across the globe:

As I did at the end of my blog last week, I want to thank the Club’s Freedom of the Press Committee for all that it does to monitor press freedom issues around the world and prepare the very statements that Abdullah Elshamy said contributed to his release.

"Meeting Abdullah reinforced my pride in what we do," said John M. Donnelly, the chair of the Freedom of the Press Committee.

I know all NPC members share that view.