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As election nears, Egyptian press in peril

CPJ and See Media release new documentary, 'Under Threat'

This story was originally published on on 6 November 2014.

As Egypt prepares to elect a new parliament, the government continues to crack down on the press, forcing independent and critical voices into silence, exile, or prison. These threats are explored in a short documentary, "Under Threat," by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Egyptian production company See Media, released today in Washington, D.C.

Six journalists have been killed and dozens detained since the Egyptian military took power in July 2013. Most of those detained have been released, but Egypt is still jailing at least 11 journalists, three of whom are affiliated with Al-Jazeera. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is trying to appease the international community by justifying restrictions as anti-terrorism measures while at the same time showing zero tolerance for criticism.

"Muzzling news media and threatening critical voices diminish any chance of open debate, a requisite for any free and fair election," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator. "Egypt cannot claim to have traveled its road map to democracy without freeing all journalists behind bars and reforming the laws that put them there."

The film documents the dangers of working for Egyptian media across the political spectrum, impunity in the killings of reporters, and the ongoing imprisonments of journalists.

"We wanted to screen this important film in Egypt, where journalists face unprecedented threats and press freedom is being trampled by harsh rhetoric and anti-terrorism legislation," said Courtney Radsch, CPJ's advocacy director. "But that perilous environment, coupled with a new law placing tight restrictions on non-governmental organizations, forced CPJ to launch the film in Washington."

Last week, CPJ launched an appeal for discussion on social media at #EgyptLastWord. CPJ is also seeking to take a board delegation to Cairo to impress upon the government the need to address its dire press freedom record.

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