'We must redouble our efforts, we’ve got to get them out' – Al Jazeera English MD on #FreeAJStaff bid
Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey has called on the international community to “redouble efforts” in a bid to secure the release of three of its journalists jailed in Egypt.
Campaign: The three journalists have been in jail for nearly a year
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been in prison for 312 days after being arrested when covering the political turmoil in Egypt, and were later jailed when Egyptian authorities accused them of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The sentences – two of seven years and one of 10 years – sparked international outrage and led to a wide campaign for their release from the international media community.
December will mark a full year in prison for the trio, and during a visit to London Anstey said efforts to get them out must be stepped up.
“I simply can’t believe we’re 312 days in,” he said. “There was not a shred of evidence and the process was fundamentally flawed. They are guilty of nothing other than journalistic integrity.
“We’ve got to redouble our efforts globally, we’ve got to get them out.”
Anstey said that the men were coping as well as could be expected but that the network is deeply worried about the situation.
“We’re in constant contact with their families, who visit them often,” he said. “They’re doing as well as can be expected in pretty dire conditions. They’re strong people, brilliant people, but we worry deeply and just need to get them out.”
The case will return to court in January although the hearing will only examine the legal process the case went through, not the case itself.
“We’re looking at a long, drawn out legal process,” Anstey added.
Al Jazeera staged an international day of action in February to pile pressure on the Egyptian authorities to release the three men.
International news broadcasters including Sky News and Channel 4 News took part in the event, in which staff were photographed with mouths taped holding ‘#FreeAJStaff’ banners. The campaign went viral on social media.
"The campaign became huge," Anstey said. "We received support from people around the world, and the media in the UK have been outstandingly supportive – the BBC, Channel 4 News and ITV have all been involved."