United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has applauded the decision by Egyptian authorities to release on bail the detained Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, bringing an end to their 400-day ordeal.
In a statement released by his spokesperson’s office, Mr. Ban said he hopes that both Mr. Fahmy’s and Mr. Mohamed’s cases, as well as those of other journalists currently held in detention, will be resolved “expeditiously and in accordance with Egypt’s international obligations to protect the freedoms of expression and association.”
The two journalists were arrested in 2013 along with their Australian colleague, Peter Greste, or carrying out legitimate news reporting activities, according to the UN human rights office (OHCHR), and were subsequently convicted and sentenced in June 2014 by an Egyptian court.
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a binding treaty that Egypt ratified in 1982, states that ‘Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.’
Nevertheless, journalists working for other media organizations have reported being attacked by Government supporters after being accused of working for Al Jazeera . A video also emerged last year which appeared to show a police officer threatening a camera crew working for another TV station that, if they did not stop filming, he would tell bystanders they worked for Al Jazeera so that they would be attacked.