New York, December 1--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Egyptian authorities to release freelance investigative journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani. The journalist was charged today with publishing false news and belonging to the banned group, the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports.
"Ismail Alexandrani's arrest is the latest attempt by the Egyptian government to silence critical reporting through force and intimidation," CPJ's Middle East and North Africa research associate Jason Stern said. "We call on authorities to release Alexandrani immediately and drop all charges against him."
Alexandrani was detained at Hurghada airport in Egypt Sunday, after arriving from Berlin, according to his wife's Twitter account and news reports. He was questioned by national security agents in Hurghada before being transferred to Cairo, where prosecutors questioned him for more than nine hours today, his wife, Khadeega Gaafar, said on social media. His lawyer attended the questioning in Cairo, family members and colleagues of Alexandrani told CPJ. Prosecutors ordered Alexandrani to be held in pre-trial detention for 15 days, according to reports. The detention period can be renewed indefinitely.
Alexandrani has written critically of the Egyptian military's efforts to combat extremist militias in the Sinai peninsula, including for independent newspapers al-Safir and al-Modon, both based in Lebanon. Government censorship and intimidation has resulted in scarce independent reporting about fighting in the peninsula and its toll on the civilian population. Three weeks ago, Egyptian military prosecutors detained investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat for three days, according to CPJ research.