The IPI global network condemns the Egyptian government’s decision to pursue criminal charges against Mada Masr journalists Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin, and Beesan Kassab. Judicial authorities must dismiss the case and ensure Egyptian courts are not used to stifle press freedom and independent journalism.
The three journalists face charges of misusing social media and offending members of parliament, according to The Guardian. If found guilty, each could face up to two years in prison.
The charges against the three journalists relate to a story published in August 2022 that disclosed how a government watchdog detected “gross financial misconduct” among leaders of Egypt’s Mostaqbal Watn, or Nation’s Future Party, which backs President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Following the publication of the story, the three journalists and Mada Masr’s editor-in-chief, Lina Attalah, were questioned by police and accused of “spreading false news,” “offending members of parliament,” “deliberately disturbing” members of parliament, and “operating an unlicensed website,” according to The Guardian.
Mada Masr, a recipient of the 2019 IPI-IMS Free Media Pioneer Award, has continued to deliver independent, investigative coverage despite repeatedly being targeted by the Egyptian government.
“This is not the first time that Egyptian authorities have filed baseless charges to intimidate journalists who are courageously doing their jobs by holding the government accountable”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “Since 2013, the Sisi regime has systematically deployed draconian laws to punish independent media, leading to a highly restrictive media environment and an alarming decline in press freedom. Egypt must dismiss this unjust case and ensure its courts are not acting as tools of oppression to criminalize journalism and silence critical media. The IPI global network stands by the brave team at Mada Masr.”
Over the last five years, the Egyptian government has amplified its crackdown on the media. Since 2018, at least 51 journalists have been imprisoned, the majority under the pretense of “false news.”