29 Dec 2014

Keeping jailed journalists in the public eye with gaffer tape

Fact is, I came to this campaign a bit late. Thousands of others were posting up pictures of gaffer-taped mouths and holding up little handwritten placards saying “Free Al Jazeera Staff” before I had even heard about it.

Well, late to the party, I just decided to hang in there. The way I see it is that the sheer monotonous drip-drip of my mug, plus gaffer from wherever life may take me, helps somehow to keep Baher, Mohamed and Peter in the public eye to a little extent. Or I’d like to think so.

Rather more seriously, all we can hope for is that the process moves forward quickly from the off on 1 January in Egypt when the appeal process begins in earnest. There is perhaps some hope in the recent comments from the political leadership in Cairo, and I don’t doubt that superhuman efforts have been going on for months behind the scenes.

My little protest has attracted a good deal of predictable whataboutery. To which I say, of course there are many other journalists in similar- and even worse – circumstances just for doing their jobs.

All of them deserve our support and effective campaigning. But a broad, scattergun approach is going to do nothing but diminish the effect. Far better to have different support groups carrying out hopefully effective, targeted campaigns in a world which seems to get ever more dangerous for journalists.


All governments have problems with all media organisations – or I would hope they do. This is normal, healthy, desirable. No doubt Cairo has grievances with Al Jazeera and its journalism – but victimising individuals for doing their jobs honestly, diligently and in good faith is absolutely not the way to smooth out these problems.

It is time constructively to address those problems with dialogue, having released Baher, Mohamed and Peter to get on with their grotesquely interrupted lives.

 Follow @alextomo on Twitter

Tweets by @alextomo

2 reader comments

  1. rene mcdonald says:

    there are too many journalists being locked away never to be heard of again just for doing their job. we need more protection for them to do their job in dangerous countries. this is how dictators silence news from getting out they want to keep secret so its in everyone’s interest to help

  2. Philip Edwards says:


    I have every sympathy and support for any honest journalist anywhere trying to do an honest job and tell the truth. Gawd knows, there’s few enough of them. And doing it properly is as hard as hell.

    The problem is what the Leveson inquiry revealed (even for naifs) when it lifted a small corner of the curtain concealing media corruption. Of course it only confirmed what free-thinkers have said for years. Now NOBODY trusts journalists, especially the Murdoch type. The guilty ones can’t say they don’t have it coming.

    The three Al Jazeera journalists are typical of what happens when (apparently) innocent men – not just journalists – get caught in a vortex of establishment lies and conspiracy. I hope they are released soon and home with their families.

    But there is cosmic irony here. For Al Jazeera and Russia Today (doubtless both with their own agendas) often cover events and bring us truths British media conveniently “forget.” Sadly, that includes C4 News.

    I regularly watch both AJ and RT because I need an antidote to the sheer rottenness and lies of British monopoly-owned media. They too need to be taken with a sackful of salt, but at least we get some coverage which “our own” media signally fails to deliver or twists the truth of.

    And that is why British broadcast news is doomed in its present format. The internet will see to that, always assuming the West doesn’t seek to corrupt that too.

    Meantime, the thoughts and efforts of all democrats and honest journalists will be with the three AJ journalists.

Comments are closed.