Journalists should not be treated as enemies of the state but rather as allies in fighting terrorism, the US ambassador to the United Nations stated Wednesday, in remarks seen as a swipe at Egypt.
Ambassador Samantha Power told the Security Council that counter-terrorism measures “should never be used as an excuse to suppress political dissent” and that jailing journalists was “counter-productive.”
The 15-member council was holding a special debate on confronting terrorism ideologies chaired by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, whose country holds the council presidency this month.
Egypt’s journalists’ union this month accused the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of being “at war” with the media after two reporters were accused of incitement.
A total of 29 journalists are behind bars in Egypt, some of whom have been held in custody for nearly three years, according to the journalists’ union.
Without referring specifically to Egypt, Power told the council that “arresting journalists, sentencing reporters to death; treating media as an enemy of the state – such actions are thoroughly counterproductive.”
“The media is an ally when it comes to showing the truth about terrorist groups,” she added.
Asked about the statement, Shoukry told reporters that Power’s remarks were not directed at Egypt but he added that the US ambassador was off-topic.
“I think it is important that we keep a focus and that we send a clear message and not confuse issues related to the battle against terrorism with other issues,” said the foreign minister.
Human rights activists accuse Sisi of running an ultra-authoritarian regime that has violently suppressed all opposition since toppling Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Shoukry denied there had been arbitrary arrest of journalists in Egypt.
“We believe that journalism is an important contributor to the development of Egypt,” he said.