Two more arrests in Egypt

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of a newspaper editor and a blogger, whose arrests have brought the number of journalists detained arbitrarily in Egypt to 31.

Al-Shaab newspaper editor Amer Abdel Moneim was arrested at his home in the Cairo district of Gizeh on the night of 18 December and was placed in pre-trial detention for an initial period of 15 days that is renewable. After being questioned without a lawyer being present, he was charged with “spreading fake news” and “participating in terrorist activities.” Relatives say he is in very poor health, suffering from diabetes and having recently undergone an operation to his eyes. Moneim had published several articles in recent weeks criticizing President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s authoritarian policies and condemning the many arrests of journalists and human rights defenders.

The other recent arrest is that of the blogger Shady Abu Zaid. A month after his release on 18 October, he was re-arrested as a result of an appeal court’s decision to sentence him to six months in prison, upholding his 2016 conviction by a Qasr Al-Nil criminal court on a charge of “defaming the interior ministry” in a satirical video in which he pranked police officers. Zaid spent more than two years in provisional detention after he was arrested for the first time in May 2018, when the authorities said they were investigating him on suspicion of “spreading fake news” and “membership of a terrorist group.”

“It is distressing to see the Egyptian authorities continue to flout the right to be informed by arbitrarily arresting and detaining yet more news providers and bloggers,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “We call for the immediate release of the 31 journalists detained in Egypt.”

The latest arrests came just as the European Parliament adopted Resolution 2912 condemning “in the strongest possible terms the continuing and intensifying crackdown on fundamental rights and on human rights defenders, lawyers, protesters, journalists, bloggers, trade unionists [and others].”The resolution has annoyed Egypt’s political class, which regards it as meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs.

Egypt is ranked 166th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index .