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U.N. human rights agency urges Egypt to let reporters do their job

Jan. 31, 2014 at 4:51 PM   |   Comments

CAIRO, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Egypt has been cracking down on journalists working in the country, making it difficult for them to do their jobs, U.N. human rights officials said Friday.

This week, 20 people working for Arab-language news network al-Jazeera were arrested on charges that included "aiding a terrorist group" and "conspiring against the national interest." Four were from outside Egypt

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. human rights commissioner, said the arrests are on vague charges. He said journalists have been subjected to intimidation for months.

The arrests and other incidents have "led to increased fears among the media in general, both national and international, which is clearly deeply detrimental to freedom of expression and opinion," Colville said.

Colville said a number of other journalists were detained while they covered the anniversary of the first demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Most have been freed.

"We urge the Egyptian authorities to promptly release all journalists imprisoned for carrying out legitimate news reporting activities in exercise of their fundamental human rights," Colville said. "It is the state's obligation to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is respected, and that journalists are able to report on diverse views and issues surrounding the current situation in Egypt."

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