The IPI global network today called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release Al Jazeera journalist Rabie Al-Sheikh.
According to media reports, Al-Sheikh, a producer for Al Jazeera Mubasher channel, was detained at Cairo International Airport on August 1, soon after he arrived from Doha to visit his family.
Al-Sheikh has been placed in pre-trial detention for 15 days on the orders of the Supreme State Security Prosecution to allow security forces to investigate charges of “spreading false news” against the journalist. Sheikh was arrested after a lengthy interrogation about his work at Al Jazeera.
“Egypt must immediately release Rabie Al-Sheikh and drop any charges against him”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Al-Sheikh’s disturbing arrest follows a pattern of arbitrary detention of journalists in Egypt who cover stories that are not to the government’s liking. Egypt’s international partners must demand that Cairo respect the fundamental rights of press freedom and freedom of expression.”
A few days before Sheik’s arrest, an audio recording of him inviting an Egyptian columnist for an interview appeared on social media. In the recording was a conversation between Sheikh and Abdel Nasser Salama on the crisis over the construction of a dam on the Nile by Ethiopia. Salama himself was arrested last month over a Facebook post calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to resign for his inability to prevent Ethiopia from proceeding with the construction of the dam.
According to data collected by IPI as part of its #PressEgypt campaign, more than 60 journalists are currently detained in Egypt, which has become one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists. Detained journalists in Egypt are frequently denied due process rights and in some cases jailed without charges or trial.