Update: On 28 August we recieved VERY good news, that the new Egyptian Justice Minister has advised the Australian Ambassador that the case against Austin has been dropped and the travel ban lifted. A short time later Austin was able to confirm through his lawyer that the charges against his translator and Egyptian national Aliya Alwi, as well as US student Derek Ludovici, were also dropped.
Thank you to everyone for your support!
A young Australian desperately needs your help.
Austin Mackell is a 28 year old freelance journalist. Since February last year, he has been braving difficult and dangerous conditions in Egypt to report on the Arab Spring. His stories on the struggle for democracy in Egypt have been run in respected media outlets around the world, including The Guardian.
On February 11 this year, Mackell, his translator Aliya Alwi and US student Derek Ludovici were on assignment when they were attacked by a small mob. Over the next 56 hours, the trio were taken into custody and repeatedly interrogated, threatened and intimidated. Eventually the three were charged with “inciting riots” - a charge which carries a penalty of up to seven years jail.
Austin, who was denied a lawyer, has had his passport, camera, laptop and external hard drive confiscated. All three have had their faces splashed across the Egyptian media and been accused of being foreign agents bent on destabilising the country.
Incredibly, throughout this ordeal, the Australian Government has remained silent - refusing to speak up to defend an Australian citizen.
In Austin’s own words: “I want the Government to defend the right of an Australian journalist to do his job in Egypt without being harassed and threatened with 5-7 years in jail. I want them to state very clearly that I am not a spy and that it is unacceptable for an Australian citizen to be treated this way.”
With Bob Carr just named as Australia’s Foreign Minister, NOW is the time for him to speak out. If the matter goes to court, it might be too late to intervene.
Tell Bob Carr to make a strong public statement and lobby the Egyptian Government to drop these concocted charges against Austin Mackell, Aliya Alwi and Derek Ludovici.
The full text of the Open Letter can be found under the “Petition Letter” tab.
For further details on action you can take to support Mackell and his colleagues, visit his blog. austingmackell.wordpress.com/the-case-against-me-and-my-colleagues/.
The following people have lent their support to this Open Letter:
Elizabeth Humphrys, Editor (Oceania & South-East Asia) Interface Journal
John Pilger, Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker
Julian Assange, Wikileaks
Guy Rundle, Author and Journalist
Stuart Rees AM, Director of Sydney Peace Foundation, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney
Professor Sarah Joseph, Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University
Lizzie O’Shea, Lawyer
Jennifer Robinson, Lawyer
Lee Rhiannon, Senator, Australian Greens
Scott Ludlam, Senator, Australian Greens
Adam Bandt, Member for Melbourne, Australian Greens
Jamie Parker, NSW MP, Australian Greens
Dr John Kaye, NSW MLC, Australian Greens
David Shoebridge, NSW MLC, Australian Greens
Dr Debra Adelaide, Vice-President, Sydney PEN
Joel Gibson, Board Member, Sydney PEN
Antony Loewenstein, Author and Independent Journalist.
Kirsten Tranter, Author
Dr Jeff Sparrow, Editor Overland
Jacinda Woodhead, Assistant Editor, Overland
Irene Doutney, Councillor, Sydney City Council
Christopher Warren, Federal Secretary, Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance
Jim Casey, State Secretary, NSW, Fire Brigade Employees’ Union
Warren Smith, Assistant National Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia
Paul McAleer, Secretary, Sydney Branch, Maritime Union of Australia
Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association
Dr Tad Tietze, Consultant Psychiatrist and blogger
Hicham Safieddine, Managing Editor, Al-Akhbar English (News Outlet)
Yazan Al-Saadi, Al-Akhbar (News Outlet)
Dima Charif, Al-Akhbar (News Outlet)
Professor David Dixon, Dean of Law, University of NSW
Professor Larissa Behrendt, Director of Research, Jumbunna IHL, University of Technology, Sydney
Professor Michael Burawoy, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Wendy Bacon, Professor, University of Technology, Sydney
Dr John Docker, Honorary Professor, History Department, University of Sydney
Dr Scott Burchill, International Relations, Deakin University
Michael Thomson, President, University of Sydney Branch, National Tertiary Education Union
Dr Damien Cahill, Academic VP, University of Sydney Branch, National Tertiary Education Union
Paddy Gibson, Senior Researcher, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney
Craig Longman, Senior Researcher, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney
Associate Professor Peter Slezak, Philosophy, University of NSW
Dr David Glanz, NTEU branch committee member, RMIT University
Dr James Arvanitakis, Academic University of Western Sydney
Dr Jessica Whyte, Lecturer in Cultural and Social Analysis, University of Western Sydney
Dr Rick Kuhn, Reader in Politics, Australian National University
Anthea Vogl, Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney
Dr Nick Riemer, Senior Lecturer, English and Linguistics Department, University of Sydney
Dr Stewart Jackson, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney
Dr Jamie Allinson, Research Fellow at The British Institute in Amman
Dr Alf Gunvald Nilsen, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of Bergen, Norway
Dr Mark Pendleton, Lecturer in Japanese Studies, The University of Sheffield
Dr Cristina Flesher Fominaya, University of Aberdeen
Colin Barker, honorary lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Dr Gareth Dale, Senior Lecturer in politics and international relations, Brunel University
Violet Roumeliotis, CEO Settlement Services International
John Passant, Editor, En Passant
Cassie Findlay, Archivist and co-founder of the Recordkeeping Roundtable
Kane Ord, Project Officer, One Planet Project
Nat Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative
Jean Parker, PhD candidate, University of Technology, Sydney
Phil Chilton, PhD Candidate, University of Western Australia
John Morris, President Canterbury Bankstown Teachers Association