Journalism student uses Twitter to help free translator

Two weeks after University of California-Berkeley journalism student James Buck was arrested while covering a demonstration in Egypt, he was this week still seeking the release of his translator, Mohammed Maree.

Since the incident in Mahalla on 10 April, much has been made online of the way Buck used the microblogging service Twitter to help secure his release.

But as Buck explained this week on BBC Radio 5Live’s Pods & Blogs programme, Twitter was only part of the story. Buck had prepared an emergency broadcast SMS message before heading to the demonstration.

The one-word text message – ‘arrested’–mobilised a network of friends and colleagues who contacted the university, which arranged for a lawyer to seek his release. They also contacted the Associated Press, who immediately interviewed Buck from his prison cell.

‘I have no illusions that the networks supporting me like my university, my embassy and the various networks of influence that have to do with being a white American student weren’t at play,’Buck wrote on his website.

‘Twitter and SMS both allowed me to contact those networks.”

Details of the campaign to secure the release of Maree are on Buck’s website : www.jameskarlbuck.com

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