The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today criticized the Egyptian government for extending the detention of some journalists and slapping new charges against them.
Between August 17 and 30, the Egyptian state security prosecution decided to investigate journalist Solafa Magdy in a new case. Meanwhile, Magdy and her husband, journalist Hossam al-Sayyad, had their pre-trial detention renewed for 45 days in state security case 488/2019 on August 25. Journalists Shimaa Samy and Esraa Abdel Fattah also had their pretrial detentions renewed.
“The government in Egypt has resorted to dubious tactics to keep journalists in prison”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “The international community cannot sit silently and watch press freedom being decimated in Egypt.”
Egyptian authorities frequently extend detentions and bring new trumped-up charges against imprisoned human rights defenders as a way to circumvent the two-year limit on pre-trial detention and keep them behind bars once they receive a release order in one case. This practice is known as “recycling cases.”
Magdy, a multimedia reporter whose work appeared in Alroeya (UAE), TRT World, MadaMasr and BBC, was arrested in November 2019 on charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news, and has since been held in Al-Qanater women’s prison.
Shimaa Samy, a contributor at Daarb newspaper, was held incommunicado without any known charges for 10 days after being seized from her home in Alexandria in May 2020. Held on charges of “aiding a terrorist group and spreading false news”, Samy is believed to have been detained over her criticism of the government’s detention of political prisoners.
Esraa Abdel Fattah, a journalist and an iconic leader of the 2011 revolution, has been jailed on remand since September 2019. She is also being held in Al-Qanater women’s prison on charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news. Abdel Fattah was reportedly subject to torture while in detention.
More than 60 journalists are behind bars in Egypt’s overcrowded prisons according to IPI’s #PressEgypt data. Recently a prominent journalist, Mohamed Mounir, died after contracting Covid-19 while in pre-trial detention in Cairo’s notorious Tora prison.