I know you guys remember the detention of journalist Peter Greste, held with Al Jazeera colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahm in Cairo from December 2013. I remember, but perhaps not as well as you. I didn’t know the guy’s name before he was arrested charges of spreading “false news”. This was my fault, and not that of the Australian who had offered the Anglophone world an understanding of a coup that powers in the West would not call a coup. I was dumped that year, so any affairs more foreign than the one the ex was enjoying in Balwyn North were of limited concern.
I suspect that among my media colleagues I was not then the only diplomatic ditz. The “journalism is not a crime” slogan was adopted quickly and ardently by a part of a sector who couldn’t have known the name el-Sisi, much less of his part in the “transition to democracy” that Obama so graciously described. And, that’s OK. You utter it uncritically and often and even when law declares otherwise: journalism is not a crime.
It feels better to say this when the guy not committing a crime happens to be a Peabody Award winner and awfully nice. It is easier to say this from the West when the guy not committing a crime is caught in non-Western codes. I am not suggesting that my fellows are racist; many include “diversity” as an interest on their social media profiles. I am suggesting only that we have a historical tendency to detect injustice in nations that are other to the form of our own. Even Tony Abbott was able to call this criminalisation “bewildering”.