An international group of high-profile news executives — including NBC News president Deborah Turness, ABC News managing editor of international news Jon Williams and BBC director of news James Harding — have penned an open letter calling for the release of Peter Gresteand other Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.
The group, which also includes BBC deputy director of news Fran Unsworth, ITN chief executive John Hardie, Reuters global editor John Pullman and Sky head of news John Ryley, writes “the Egyptian authorities are profoundly mistaken in their actions”:
Whatever the local conditions, a fundamental principle of any country should be freedom of speech – the existence of critical voices that can test the mettle of a system. As history shows, that’s vital. So we think Egypt’s move is deeply damaging to the future of impartial journalism in the country and that its actions are unjust, and unacceptable.
A hard-working, honourable journalist, with a track record of achievement, has been put in jail, awaiting trial, for honestly practising his trade. So we would like to add our voices to those that have called for his release, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Peter Greste and his colleagues should be set free so that they can continue with the kind of impartial, balanced reporting he has so eloquently defended from his prison cell.