Working Life

Media workers targeted in Egypt’s crackdown


By Andrew Casey

Asia/Pacific Editor for LabourStart

Thursday, 30 January 2014

AN Australian journalist working for the Al Jazeera television network in Egypt has become the focus of concern for both the Australian journalists’ union – the MEAA – and its international counterpart, the IFJ.

Overnight, the IFJ has repeated its call for Egyptian authorities to release Australian journalist Peter Greste (pictured below) and his fellow Al Jazeera colleagues after letters he has written from his prison cell in Cairo have revealed the harsh conditions in which they are being held.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has backed a vocal local media campaign by Peter’s parents,  and run a petition campaign on behalf of Peter Greste which the MEAA delivered to the Egyptian embassy in Canberra.

And Amnesty International has, in recent days highlighted the grave risk to media freedom in Egypt as journalists face ‘terror charges’.

Egyptian, and international media, are reporting that 20 Al Jazeera journalists – mostly local Egyptian media workers – have been accused of creating a ‘terrorist media network’.

Journos blamed for political crisis

Peter GresteEgypt Independent reports that the Prosecutor-General in the Cairo Criminal Court has charged the journalists with establishing a media network in a hotel to broadcast “false news” via the Al Jazeera channel in a case known as the “Marriott Cell”.

In recent weeks Egypt’s military bosses have put a focus on media workers who they blame for inflaming the latest political crisis –  triggered after the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the military.

The attack on Al Jazeera as a terrorist cell comes at exactly the same time that the second trial against former Islamist President Morsi started and was immediately adjourned. The two cases are being connected as just one big Islamist terrorist plot against the Egyptian people.

A very active local journalists’ union has led a campaign demanding an end to the crackdown on journalists.

Unfortunately, one of the only consistencies in Egypt, from the Mubarak era through to the SCAF period to Morsi’s rule to the tumultuous summer of 2013, has been encroachments on press freedom and attacks on journalists. But there have been subtle shifts in how journalists have been targeted, and attacks are becoming more systematic.

For more information about the attack on Peter Greste and other journalists in Egypt – as well as the struggle of Egypt’s working people and their unions follow Egypt LabourStart.

Working Life is a forum to share ideas and opinions about work and life, both light-hearted and serious. The opinions presented on Working Life are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent policies or views of the ACTU.




  1. Cassandra
    Friday, 31 January, 2014 at 3:30 pm · Reply

    Egypt today Australia tomorrow?

    The Abbott governments paranoia about the ABC and its demands that it only reports the news that the Abbott government thinks fit is the first step towards this.

    Oh! Abbott might not actually try and jail reporters and producers (although he probably could under Howards anti terrorist legislation) but he can effectively gag them by slashing the ABC’s funding and contracting out a lot of its news gathering services.

    Authoritarian regimes always attack a free media first and replace it with their own media or eliminate it altogether. Abbott already has a compliant privatised media so eliminating a ‘wasteful’ and non compliant community owned media outlet is a logical step.

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