Journalists’ union
protests over arrests
in Egypt crackdown

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More than 50 protesters gathered outside the Egyptian embassy in London yesterday, calling for the immediate release of detained journalists and a return to press freedom in Egypt.

Demonstrators held placards and taped over their mouths during the protest held by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

It follows the arrest of 20 journalists by Egyptian authorities on charges of terrorism and representatives from the NUJ will be meeting the British ambassador to campaign for their release.

Among them is former BBC journalist Peter Greste, who was detained in a hotel working in Cairo along with two colleagues from Al Jazeera.

Four of the detained, including Greste, are due to appear in court in Cairo today.

Former Channel 4 presenter Sue Turton, who also works for Al Jazeera, is one of 20 wanted journalists who are accused by the Egyptian authorities of aiding and abetting terrorists. Of the 20, nine are Al Jazeera staff.

Turton described Greste as a “measured and balanced journalist” and called on the judges to do the right thing and release them after 53 days of detention.

She said: “We are trying to show the Egytian government we are all watching and we’re all journalists concerned with releasing our guys and press freedom for all journalists, foreign and domestic.”

More than 38,000 people have signed a petition started by Mr Greste’s parents, and the global campaign Avaaz. The petition will be handed in to the Egyptian government before the trial begins. If found guilty, Greste could face seven years in prison.

“The other journalists from Al Jazeera English under detention along with Mr Greste are Mohammed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohammed.

Their colleague Abdullah Al Shami, of Al Jazeera Arabic, has been detained since August 14 and is in the third week of a hunger strike, the NUJ said.