Egypt: three journalists detained and tortured over terrorism charges

Three journalists remain detained on charges of spreading false information and inciting terrorism online as a result of conducting interviews in the streets in central Cairo. 

Their lawyer told media that the trio have been ‘beaten and electrocuted’ during interrogation and are being held in pre-trial detention for a renewable 15 days.

On 26 September, Egyptian journalists Hamdy Mokhtar, Mohamed Hassan and Osama al-Bishbishi were arrested while carrying out ‘vox pops’ - short interviews with members of the public – on the economic policy of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi near the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate (EJS) in downtown Cairo. Security forces arrested them on the spot alleging that they had been filming without the necessary permit. Their lawyer told local media that they were accused of “using recording devices to spread false information through television channels in Turkey giving a bad impression of Egypt”.

The three journalists were interrogated by prosecutors and officers from Egypt’s domestic intelligence agency on the night of September 27 and charged with "belonging to a banned organisation, inciting violence and terrorism online and publishing false news" the next morning, reports added. Hassan is a reporter working for Al Nabaa news site. Al-Bishbishi is a photographer and cameraman for the news website Baladi while Mokhtar is a freelance photographer who works with the newspaper el-Shaab el-Jadeed.

IFJ President, Philippe Leruth, said, "Egyptian authorities must stop breaking the law by arresting journalists for just doing their work. Their violations of the constitutional guarantees for individual liberties and the right to a due legal process have become intolerable and must stop and our colleagues must be freed immediately".

Back in May, police raided the EJS headquarters in Cairo and arrested reporters Omar Badr and Mahmoud al Saqa for “inciting protests” against the authorities. In addition, EJS President Yahya Qallash, Vice President Khalid el Balshi and General Secretary Gamal Abdulrahim were questioned for 14 hours about allegations of "harbouring fugitives in the union´s offices," which the IFJ strongly condemned at the time.

The Federation, representing 600,000 journalists worldwide, asks the authorities to drop all charges against the three journalists and reaffirms its international solidarity with Egyptian reporters who are standing up for press freedom and union rights in the country. 

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

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