Egypt: Editor in Chief arrested amid new media crackdown campaign

Lina Attalah, Editor in Chief of the Egyptian investigative media outlet Mada Masr, was arrested on 17 May when she was interviewing a human rights activist outside Cairo's Tora Prison complex before being released a few hours later. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns this act of intimidation against independent media and urges the authorities to stop the crackdown on media.

Credit: Mada Masr

Lina Attalah was interviewing Laila Soueif, mother of imprisoned activist Alaa Abd El Fattah, when security officials arrested her, confiscating her phone and denying her legal counsel.

According to media reports, she was released hours later following a bail payment of EGP 2000 (115€). The reasons for the arrest remain undisclosed.

Attalah is an award-winning journalist who has been working as a reporter for more than 15 years and now is the editor-in-chief of Mada Masr media, an online outlet that investigates corruption and security. Its website has been unavailable since 2017 when the Egyptian government shutdown over 500 sites but is still publishing content using VPN and mirror sites to avoid the blockade.

A state-led campaign against journalists

The arrest of Lina Atallah occurs in the context of a state-led campaign against journalists named "case number 586".

Case number 586 is a campaign to arrest journalists in Egypt on charges of participating in terrorist groups and spreading "fake news". Among the journalists in custody due to this campaign are Sameh Hanin, Haitham Hassan Mahjoub and producer Moataz Abdel Wahab. Media reported that their arrests were related to their coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to legal experts, their arrests are a new case of fabricated charges by the Egyptian security and judicial services to target journalists and human rights activists.

Egyptian authorities have a damning record of abusing journalists and muzzling press freedom. In recent months, the IFJ condemned the arrest of journalists Hossam El-Sayed and Solafa Magdy, who were accused of terrorist activities. This followed a string of arrests targeting journalists and activists, in October 2019. The IFJ has repeatedly called on the authorities to stop the repression of media.

For further information contact IFJ Middle East & Arab World on +32 (0) 2 235 22 11

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Find the Middle East and Arab World IFJ regional office on Twitter (in Arab): @IFJ_AR