Egypt: Two journalists arrested in Cairo

Newspaper editor Aamer Abdel Moneim and photojournalist Hamdy Al Zaeim were arrested by police on 18 December and 6 January respectively for allegedly spreading fake news and joining terrorist groups, among other charges. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounces the arbitrary detentions and demands their immediate release.

Hamdy Al Zaeim and Aamer Abdel Moneim: Credit: The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

Aamer Abdel Moneim was managing editor of the ‘Al Shaab’ newspaper, which was suspended in 2014, and a former Al-Jazeera independent columnist. He was arrested at his house for allegedly "spreading fake news and participating in terrorist activities". He has been detained for 15 days awaiting trial.

According to media reports, Moneim had criticized the Egyptian government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the authoritarian policies of president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in his latest articles. To date, local authorities have rejected requests by Moneim’s family to release him due to his poor health, caused by diabetes and a recent cataract surgery, and the risks he faces with the pandemic.

Al-Zaeim, also known as Hamdy Mokhtar, was seized from his home by the police at dawn on 6 January and taken to an unknown location. The family hasn’t been informed about the charges that led to his arrest.

Four years ago, Mokhtar was arrested by the police while working on a report on headscarves in front of the Journalists’ Syndicate and placed under house arrest for allegedly joining a terrorist group, promoting their views on social media and spreading false news and information, among other charges.

Mokhtar was under house arrest from September 2016 until June 2018, when the Egyptian criminal court ordered his pretrial detention to be replaced with probationary release.

With these 2 latest arrests, Egypt has become the world's second biggest jailer of journalists equalling China, with 23 journalists behind bars. It’s only surpassed by Turkey, with 67 media workers in jail. 

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “The shameful position of Egypt as the world's 2nd largest jailer of journalists is a worrying trend for journalism and democracy. We will do our utmost to overturn this trend in 2021. We call on the Egyptian government to stop these arbitrary detentions and its ongoing harassment campaign against the media and to immediately release our colleagues, especially when their health and human rights are at such risk”.

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

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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