Greens back efforts to free Australian journalist and colleagues in Egypt
Media Release: Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Sunday February 13th, 2012
The Greens today encouraged all efforts by the Australian Government to secure the release of Australian journalist Austin Mackell and his colleagues from custody in Egypt.
Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said the Greens “are completely behind the Government doing all it can to guarantee the release and safety of Mr Mackell, translator Aliya Alwi and American student Derek Ludovici”.
“The arrest of Mr Mackell, Ms Alwi and Mr Ludovici in Mahalla is an attack on press freedom and another example of the toxic way the military has hijacked the Egyptian revolution.”
“One year ago the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – SCAF – pledged to protect the revolution and realise its objectives. Instead they have been responsible for a series of bloody crackdowns on dissent and free expression in Egypt.”
“Mr Mackell has been accused of paying Egyptians to protest – this is in keeping with the junta’s self-serving claims that foreigners are responsible for all and any discontent in Egypt. These arrests are also part of a campaign to intimidate journalists into leaving the country. It is no coincidence that the arrests occurred the same day student activists staged strikes to mark the first anniversary of the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak.”
“According to Ms Alwi, charges of inciting protest and vandalism have been brought. Egypt is in its second day of a general strike, strikes were occurring in Mahalla before Mr Mackell and his colleagues arrived in the town, and one of the three witnesses produced by police is an eight year-old child. The charges are patently absurd.”
Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302