Egypt: Journalists face trial after two-week detention

Reporter Hamdi Atef Abdel Fattah and online news editor Ahmed Khalifa went missing after being arrested between 4 and 6 January on charges of spreading false news around workers' rights and joining terrorist organizations. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands the Egyptian government reveal the exact location of our colleagues and release them immediately.

Journalist Ahmed Khalifa. Credit: Masr360

On 4 January, police forces detained Hamdi Atef Abdel Fattah, a 23-year-old student and reporter of Al-Naba, Al-Bayan, and Misr-Al-Bayan newspapers. The journalist was arrested for publishing a video on social media, where he showed the lack of oxygen of Covid-19 patients at Zefta General Hospital, located at Gharbia Governorate, in northern Egypt. The video showed Rania Youssef, daughter of a Covid-19 patient who died due to the lack of oxygen in the hospital, in addition to six other cases. 

The journalist was missing for six days after his arrest, before appearing again on 11 January in the State Security Prosecution Office. In the previous week, he was interrogated in the National Security Headquarters in Tanta, a city located north of Cairo and southwest of Alexandria.

Khalifa, social affairs editor of the news site ‘Masr 360’, was arrested at Faiyum governorate, located southwest of Cairo, after state security forces went to his house on 6 January to question him about his work, which focuses on workers’ issues and labor protests.

He was not present and his family warned him about the situation. He went voluntarily to the National Security Headquarters that same day but hasn’t returned since.

Despite the fact that the state prosecutor’s office ordered a 15-day detention for Khalifa, who was charged on January 19, the authorities haven’t been able to prove the accusations against him.

While awaiting trial he is being kept in prison but his location remains unclear. It is thought he may be being held at Tora Prison, located in south Cairo, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

With these new arrests, Egypt surpasses China and becomes the world's second-biggest jailer of journalists with 25 colleagues behind bars. It’s only surpassed by Turkey, with 67 media workers in jail.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi must put an end to the regime's brutal campaign against critical journalists and independent media which started the day he took office, silencing colleagues, spreading fear among the profession and destroying the public's right to know. We demand the immediate release of all our colleagues who are courageously trying to report in the public interest."

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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