Egyptian journalist Mohamed Mounir has died after contracting Covid-19 while in pre-trial detention in Cairo’s notorious Tora prison. Mounir’s death on July 13 comes after the International Press Institute (IPI) repeatedly called on Egypt to free all jailed journalists due to the serious health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mohamed Mounir died ten days after his release from Tora prison in the capital Cairo after he had contracted the infection. He had been admitted to Agouza hospital in Giza.
The journalist was arrested by Egyptian security forces on June 15 after writing an article criticizing his country’s management of the pandemic and giving an interview to Al Jazeera discussing a controversy concerning links between the Egyptian state-owned weekly news magazine Rose Al-Youssef and Egypt’s Coptic Church.
“Mohamed Mounir’s death underscores the risk of Covid-19 infection that journalists face in Egyptian prisons”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “One of the world’s top jailers of journalists, Egypt has released prisoners after the spread of the virus in prisons but continues to wrongfully detain journalists despite knowing full well that they can be infected. Egypt must end this cruelty and release all jailed journalists immediately.”
Monir, 65, was the editor-in-chief of the al-Diyar newspaper, founder of the Front for the Defense of Journalists and Freedoms and a member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. At the time of the arrest, a colleague at the Syndicate, journalist Mahmoud Kamel, raised alarm over the fact that Monir suffers from a number of chronic illnesses, warning that imprisoning him during the coronavirus pandemic put his life in danger.
According to IPI’s data, more than 60 journalists are currently held behind bars in Egypt’s crowded prisons and astestimonials attest, often under poor conditions. In June, IPI had urged the Egyptian government to release all journalists amid concerns over the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.