View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Publishers
  2. Broadcast Journalism
June 24, 2014updated 26 Jun 2014 7:57pm

BBC journalists hold minute’s silence for the Al Jazeera three: ‘There but for the grace of God go all of us’

By William Turvill and Press Association

Hundreds of staff from the BBC and other news organisations stood in silence for a one minute protest outside New Broadcasting House in London exactly 24 hours after three journalists were jailed in Egypt on charges relating to terrorism.

Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian acting Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed were each yesterday sentenced to at least seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges stemming from an interview with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The verdicts were met with widespread condemnation, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying he was "appalled".

The Foreign Office political director Simon Gass met the Egyptian Ambassador to London, Ashraf El Kholy, yesterday to convey the UK Government's displeasure about the sentences.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Gass told the ambassador, who had been summoned by Foreign Secretary William Hague, that the Government is "deeply concerned by the verdicts and the procedural shortcomings seen during the trial".

He added: "There is a provision for freedom of expression in the Egyptian constitution and we asked that the sentences be reviewed in light of that provision."

BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney, who has worked in Afghanistan and most recently undercover in North Korea, said the verdicts yesterday were "wrong, wrong, wrong".

Content from our partners
Free journalism awards for journalists under 30: Deadline today
MHP Group's 30 To Watch awards for young journalists open for entries
How PA Media is helping newspapers make the digital transition

"The Egyptian government has taken a step back into the middle ages," he told the Press Association.

"They've locked up three people whose only crime was doing their job. Journalism is not a crime."

While he said he does not think the protest '"will really achieve much", he said it was an opportunity for journalists to take a stand.

He appealed to members of the public to support the cause. 

"I would invite people not to go on holiday to Egypt, there are lots of other sunny places they could go to," he said.

"And I would invite the Egyptian government to watch some of Peter Greste's work.

"Then they will see this is not a man who is supportive of extremist Islam."

Staff from the BBC were joined by representatives from Al Jazeera and Sky among others.

Radio 4 presenter Julian Worricker said: "It is really important because they represent all journalists because they were just doing their jobs and they end up jailed for seven years.

"There but for the grace of God go all of us."

Asked if he thought there would be more protests, Worricker said: "I'd be disappointed if (protests) didn't continue because there is a strong sense of injustice."

Topics in this article : , ,

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network