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Former hostages call on Egypt to release Al Jazeera Staff

Former hostages call on Egypt to release Al Jazeera Staff

- Terry Waite and BBC Journalist Alan Johnston speak out in support of detained Al Jazeera staff

- Amnesty International pledges to continue campaign as ‘journalism is on trial’

Doha - 20th June: Former hostages Terry Waite and BBC correspondent Alan Johnston were joined by Amnesty's International Egypt expert Nicholas Piachaud at the Frontline Club in London to call on Egypt to release Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohammed and Mohammed Fahmy ahead of the announcement of the verdict on their case which is due on Monday 23 June.

Terry Waite who was held captive for over 1,700 days in Lebanon after attempting to negotiate the release of other prisoners in the 1980s said: "Egyptian authorities would do themselves a great credit if they release the Al Jazeera three, as this is a chance for Egypt to start a new future if it is going ‘to restore credibility."

BBC journalist Alan Johnston who was kidnapped in Gaza City in 2007 and held for 114 days, said how a worldwide campaign had helped in being freed, the campaign to help release the Al Jazeera three has raised awareness but also highlighted "the wider issue of journalists being incarcerated for doing their jobs".

He further added "Journalists need protection as it is their job to expose corruption and wrongdoing round the world."

Amnesty International's Nicholas Piachaud pledged his organisation will continute the campaign because "journalism is on trial here."

He further added that "the trial of Al Jazeera's journalists has sent a clear message to both the international and domestic media that Egypt does not tolerate dissent, but if the three journalists are not released then Egypt's constitution is not worth the paper it is written on."

Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Abdullah Elshamy was released this week after being detained without charge since August 2013. Elshamy was freed on medical grounds after spending five months on a hunger strike.

Elshamy upon release said: " I call on everyone to remember my colleagues Peter, Mohammed and Baher, and that they soon will be released and reunited with their families."

Calls for the release of all Al Jazeera staff have been made from the White House, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the European Union. Similarly public calls of support for the #FreeAJStaff campaign have been made from prominent media personalities with over 60,000 people supporting the #FreeAJStaff campaign which has had over 1.2 billion impressions on Twitter.

Various media freedom and human rights groups have also issued statements ranging from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Press Institute, Amnesty International and The Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa.

Ends

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