ICFJ Condemns “Outrageous Verdict” in Egypt

Jun 42013

The International Center for Journalists deplores the decision by the Egyptian court convicting five current or former ICFJ employees of charges of working in Egypt illegally. ICFJ will appeal the decision.

“ICFJ condemns this outrageous verdict in the strongest possible terms,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. “None of our employees has done anything wrong, and our work has never been political. We were simply upgrading the skills and standards of Egyptian professional and citizen journalists. We will fight this decision until justice is served.”

ICFJ Country Director Yehia Ghanem received a two-year prison sentence. Program Officer Islam Shafiq got a one-year suspended sentence. Three U.S.-based workers—ICFJ Vice President Patrick Butler and consultants Michelle Betz and Natasha Tynes—each received a five-year sentence in absentia. The three were not based in Egypt for ICFJ, nor were any of them in the country when the charges were filed.

"This judgment has no grounds—and simply aims to appease public opinion," said ICFJ’s lawyer Sarwat Abd El-Shahid.

The case has dragged on since December 2011, when the Egyptian authorities raided the offices of five non-governmental organizations, including ICFJ’s. All 43 employees of the NGOs involved were convicted Tuesday.

The International Center for Journalists advances quality journalism worldwide. In Egypt, our work was aimed at bringing together professional and citizen journalists for training on responsible multimedia journalism that highlighted issues important to local communities.