July 22, 2011 By

UN Wary of Media Clampdown in Egypt: Al Jazeera Cameraman Acquitted

2_8The United Nations Human Rights office expressed concern over the severe clampdown on the media in Egypt highlighting the ill treatment of the reporters working for Al Jazeera television.

“We are extremely concerned about the increasingly severe clampdown and physical attacks on media in Egypt, which is hampering their ability to operate freely,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement released on Friday. Colville says that United Nations has received numerous reports of local journalists being sacked for reporting on sensitive issues; there had been reports of harassment, detention and prosecution of national and international journalists, as well as violent attacks. He also said that vague charges like ‘aiding a terrorist group’ and ‘harming the national interest’ were of great concern and that the acts were deeply detrimental to the freedom of expression and opinion.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, last week, had called for the release of journalists detained in Egypt. “We urge the Egyptian authorities to promptly release all journalists imprisoned for carrying out legitimate reporting activities in exercise of their fundamental human rights” said the UN spokesperson. Egyptian prosecutors on Wednesday referred twenty journalists working for Qatar-based international station Al Jazeera television to trial, including four foreigners.

An Al Jazeera cameraman, Mohamed Badr, was cleared of all charges by an Egyptian court yesterday, the channel’s lawyer has said. He along with sixty one others was detained for participating in the clashes in Ramses Square in central Cairo. The protests took place days after the removal of the President Mohamed Mursi by the army. Prosecution had accused them of “carrying out acts of violence and thuggery after an attempt to storm a police station and target police officers with firearms and birdshots”. Al Jazeera had been denying the accusations against its reporters and called for their release since the arrest.

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