Five international journalists, several currently affiliated with British newspaper The Guardian expressed their support for their Egyptian colleagues “in their struggle for a free and independent press”.
In a statement published in The Guardian on Sunday, the newspaper’s Egypt correspondent Patrick Kingsley, its former correspondent in Egypt Jack Shenker, and Roy Greenslade, a Guardian columnist, described the intimidation journalists in Egypt face.
The international journalists also include Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow and Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network.
“Intimidation of the media has been a central tactic of every Egyptian regime in recent years, and the fight by journalists to resist such intimidation has been a vital component of the country’s broader battle against state tyranny,” the statement read.
The editors-in-chief of several major state-owned and private newspapers agreed to support the Egyptian government rhetoric in a joint statement released on 26 October. “We pledge to stop publishing any statements that may incite violence, support terrorism, or exaggerate the size of the Muslim Brotherhood protests inside and outside universities,” read the statement.
In the agreement, editors also said they would support all security measures taken by the Egyptian state to confront terrorism and protect homeland security.
This pledge was described by the international journalists as being “near-blind”. It was also rejected by over 600 Egyptian journalists, who co-signed an online statement, condemning “the repudiation of freedom of opinion and expression” inherent in the pledge.
The international journalists’ statement called the pledge “a remarkable display of both professional integrity and personal bravery”.
“Hundreds of Egypt’s journalists have courageously declared their rejection of ‘rule by one opinion’. We stand with them,” the five international journalists said. “Egypt today is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be working in as a journalist”.
They added that they are encouraging other journalists around the world to add their names to the statement.
In February, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt as 159th out of 180 listed countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index.
Media rights watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) named Egypt the third deadliest country in the world for journalists in 2013.
At least 10 journalists have been killed in Egypt since 2011, according to CPJ. This includes six who died in the second half of 2013. The latest journalist fatality was Mayada Ashraf, a 22 year-old journalist for independent Al-Dostour newspaper, who was shot dead in Cairo’s Ain Shams neighbourhood on 28 March.