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Egypt: Wave of Arrests of Journalists and Blocking of Websites

Stock Photo of Newspapers

A week after protests broke out in Egypt, at least six journalists were jailed and several websites blocked. RSF denounces this new attempt at media muzzling by the Egyptian authorities.

Since the beginning of the popular movement on September 20, launched by the actor Mohamed Ali, at least six journalists have been arrested, bringing the number of journalists detained in Egypt to 31.

From the beginning of the protests, journalist Engy Abdel Wahab , who had been in training for several weeks at the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper , was arrested while reporting on Tahrir Square.

On the same day, Omar Hisham , a photographer for the Masrawy news site , was also arrested while on the square. His editorial team sent a letter to his lawyer, which RSF managed to obtain, to certify that he had been sent to cover the celebrations of supporters of the Al-Ahly football club during the Egyptian Supercup, which took place on 

same evening. Finally, less than two months after his release on July 31, the blogger ” Mohamed Oxygen ” was once again arrested. 

In addition, the NetBlocks organization revealed that the BBC, Al-Hurra (US government-funded channel) and Facebook Messenger sites were inaccessible in Egypt. Contacted by the BBC, the president of the Higher Media Authority, Makram Mohamed Ahmed, confirmed the blockage, according to him according to the ” publication of false information “. 

The Egyptian government must stop muzzling the press in times of popular mobilization by preventing journalists from doing their job ,” said Sabrina Bennoui, RSF’s Middle East bureau chief. This new wave of arrests shows once again all the opacity of the regime in place that constantly violates the public’s right to information. “

Three journalists have already appeared and are now in pretrial detention: Nasser Abdel Hafiz , of Akhbar El-Yom newspaper , Sayed Abdellah , who covered the mobilizations in Suez, including Al Jazeera , and published real-time information on his Facebook account ( today disabled), and Khaled Dawoud ( Al-Ahram ). The first was arrested on September 20 while he was in Tahrir Square. The second was conducted on September 21 at the police station and his wife posted a video of their house raided. The third was also arrested at his home on 25 September. 

Added to this are the journalists arrested and released, such as Sayed Sobhy ( Al-Akhbar newspaper ), arrested in Cairo on September 22 when he returned from work and released the same day .

In 2019, Egypt ranks 163rd in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index .

Copyright ©2016, Reporters Without Borders. Used with the permission of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), CS 90247 75083 Paris Cedex 02 https://rsf.org

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