New York Times credits Irish diplomats for rescuing journalist from arrest in Egypt

The New York Times has revealed that it sought intervention from the Irish government to prevent the expected arrest of a journalist in Egypt.

New York Times credits Irish diplomats for rescuing journalist from arrest in Egypt

The New York Times has revealed that it sought intervention from the Irish government to prevent the expected arrest of a journalist in Egypt.

As part of an editorial on 'The growing threat to journalism around the world', New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger revealed the story of Declan Walsh, an Irish journalist who is Cairo bureau chief for the American newspaper.

A whistleblower in the US government informed the Times of Walsh's "imminent arrest" for his reporting on the death of an Italian student, Giulio Regeni, who was found dead on the side of a road in Cairo with torture marks on his body in February 2016.

"This particular call took a surprising and distressing turn. We learned the official was passing along this warning without the knowledge or permission of the Trump administration," wrote Mr Sulzberger.

"Rather than trying to stop the Egyptian government or assist the reporter, the official believed, the Trump administration intended to sit on the information and let the arrest be carried out. The official feared being punished for even alerting us to the danger.

"Unable to count on our own government to prevent the arrest or help free Declan if he were imprisoned, we turned to his native country, Ireland, for help.

Within an hour, Irish diplomats traveled to his house and safely escorted him to the airport before Egyptian forces could detain him.

"We hate to imagine what would have happened had that brave official not risked their career to alert us to the threat."

Having been referred from the US Embassy to the Irish Embassy, Mr Walsh revealed on Twitter that a "cool, swift and fearless" diplomat was dispatched to his house within an hour and brought him to Cairo Airport, where he took the first available flight to Europe.

He returned to Cairo "weeks later" to resume his work.

Mr Sulzberger also included Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a list of global leaders who have used the "deeply alarming" phrase 'fake news' to justify varying levels of anti-press activity.

He wrote: "It has been used by liberal leaders, like Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar. It’s been used by right-wing leaders, like Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro. Standing next to President Bolsonaro in the Rose Garden, President Trump said, 'I’m very proud to hear the president use the term ‘fake news.’'"

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