Egypt: Military's closure of television channels is violation of freedom of expression and information
|Publication Date||8 July 2013|
|Cite as||Article 19, Egypt: Military's closure of television channels is violation of freedom of expression and information, 8 July 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51dfb6a94.html [accessed 26 February 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
ARTICLE 19 is concerned by the Egyptian military's decision on 3 July 2013 to shut down five private satellite television channels. The decision came just a few hours after the military coup that removed the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and suspended the constitution.
The five channels are the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt 25, and four supporting the Islamist movement: Al- Hafez, Al-Nass, Al-Rhmane, and Al- Khalijiya. Many journalists working in these stations were detained overnight, interrogated and released without charge.
"We consider this decision a serious attack on freedom of expression and a deliberate attempt to clamp down on the diversity of political speech that is much needed in the current democratic climate in Egypt," said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.
The military and the police also raided the Cairo offices of the Qatar-based pan-Arab satellite news channels Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera Al-Mubashed on 3 July, confiscating cameras and equipment and arresting director Ayman Jab and director of the studio, Ahmed Hassan, who were released two days later.
Other Arab religious television stations were also jammed by Egyptian government-owned Nilesat satellite operator. These include Palestinian Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa channels and the Jordannian Al-Yarmouk, while they were covering demonstrations by the supporters of the ousted President Morsi.
ARTICLE 19 believes that the closure of the private television channels, the arrest of media workers and the jamming of foreign satellite channels are acts of censorship that have been executed without any court order. We therefore, urge the Egyptian authorities to:
Allow the private television stations to re-open and their channels to re-broadcast without delay, and to cease any detention or harassment of their staff
Protect the right of Egyptians to seek and receive information about the current political situation through any media and regardless of frontiers
Respect the right to freedom of expression of all political parties through the media of their choice.