Dominic Kane, center, flanked by his Al-Jazeera colleagues Sue Turton, at left, and Peter Greste, at a press conference at CPJ’s offices. All three have been convicted in absentia. (AP)
On September 29, CPJ hosted a press conference in its New York offices for three journalists-Peter Greste, Dominic Kane, and Sue Turton-who have been convicted in absentia in Egypt. Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director, introduced the journalists and spoke about the threats local and international journalists face in the country.
In the press conference, Greste, Kane, and Turton called on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to pardon them and expressed solidarity with other members of the press who have been charged by the Egyptian government.
Kane and Turton said they fear being extradited to Egypt if they travel and that the convictions have made it difficult for them to work. “Once I was released from prison, I thought I was going to be free,” Greste told journalists at the press conference. “It turns out that I’m not. I still have this conviction and all of its consequences hanging over my head.”
On September 23, el-Sisi pardoned more than 100 individuals, including Al-Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy. Greste was not on the list. Neither was Kane or Turton.
A few days later, the president told The Associated Press that he was open to pardoning journalists who had been convicted in absentia. At least 18 journalists are behind bars in Egypt in relation to their work, CPJ research shows. At least 12 journalists have been convicted in absentia in the country, whose cases Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, documented in a blog published after the press conference.
CPJ’s press conference was covered in local and international media, including Newsweek, the Guardian, and the Egyptian news website Ahram Online. The Associated Press also published a story about it, which was picked up by The New York Times.
Earlier that day, Greste, Kane, and Turton attended CPJ’s Leadership Council meeting, where they met and spoke with a group of CPJ’s key supporters and friends. The meeting was also attended by Ali Rezaian, the brother of Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post journalist who has been imprisoned in Iran since July 2014.
In April 2015, The New York Times reported that Rezaian had been formally charged with four crimes, including espionage. His lawyer said that his case file presents no evidence to justify the charges. On the one-year anniversary of Rezaian’s imprisonment, CPJ’s board members wrote a letter to the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, asking him to intervene in his case.