Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy told Dutch media that Egypt is open to foreign journalists as long as they work within Egyptian law.
Speaking in a press conference with his Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans on Thursday in the Netherlands, Fahmy said, “We welcome foreign press, we provide them with assurances of press freedoms and guarantees for their safety, given that they should pursue their efforts [with]in the law.”
Last week, Dutch journalist Rena Netjes departed Egypt following her indictment by the prosecution along with Al-Jazeera journalists and others, dubbed the “Marriott cell” in the prosecution’s statement. They are accused of setting up an illegal media network “to support a terrorist group” among other charges. She was allowed to leave the country following discussions between the Dutch embassy and the Egyptian authorities.
Timmermans said in the press conference “The Minister [Fahmy] says the authorities are investigating the case and that he cannot intervene, I understand this.” He said he, too, would be unable able to intervene in a judicial process, adding “I do hope there will be clarity soon.”
The indictment, which also includes two Britons and an Australian, has drawn international criticism over press freedoms in Egypt. British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his concerns on Thursday, adding that he will bring up the issue during the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, which is scheduled for Monday. Other criticism has come from the United Nations, the United States, and human rights watchdog Amnesty International.
Fahmy met with Timmermans to discuss regional issues and the latest developments in Egypt, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman. They talked about Syria, the Middle East Peace process and other issues “regional and international issues of mutual interest”.
The two ministers signed a “memorandum of understanding on political consultations” that the Egyptian side says, “reflects the keenness of both sides to strengthen diplomatic cooperation.
Fahmy went on to update Timmermans on the latest developments inside Egypt, saying that the “Egyptian government is now seeking to advance the standard of living” while also looking to increase growth and attract investments. Fahmy said that Egypt “[aspires] to benefit from the Dutch expertise in the field of education as well as in small and micro projects, thereby giving a boost to the process of economic development.”
The Hague was the last stop on Fahmy’s tour of Europe, which took him to Rome and Berlin earlier in the week, where press freedom was also a topic of discussion. His visit comes just before EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels where they are expected to discuss the situation in Egypt in light of the constitutional referendum held in January.