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UN reiterates ‘grave concerns’ over freedom of expression in Egypt and Iran

November 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

In the wake of the release of Egyptian journalist Hossam Bahgat from state prison, UN officials have reiterated their “grave concern at the situation of fear and intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders” in both Egypt and Iran countries, according to a press statement.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst said in a statement that fear and intimidation of journalists and human rights activists “inhibit the legitimate exercise of their rights and the performance of their work.”

“Hossam Bahgat has been a leading member of the human rights community in Egypt for well over a decade, shining a spotlight on abuses through his fact-finding and investigative journalism,” said Kaye.

“According to reliable information, Bahgat was detained by military authorities on 8 November, during an investigation solely based on his writing and work as journalist, and was then released [on Tuesday].”

“We are deeply concerned that the fear of criminalisation and of being detained, even if not ultimately charged, creates an environment that deters reporting and intimidates writers and activists of all kinds,” said Forst in the statement.

In another statement, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed said that: “Increasing intimidation of journalists is hindering their ability to operate freely in the country.”

Shaheed noted that in recent day, Iranian intelligence and security officials have arrested a number of journalists in what appears to be a new crackdown on freedom of expression and the media.