New York, August 28, 2017-- The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the disappearance of Egyptian journalist Abdulla Rashad, and today called on authorities to disclose whether they have him in custody and why. Rashad, who reports on crime for al-Bawaba News, was last seen leaving the news website's office on August 17, according to his employer.
Al-Bawaba News reported that unnamed contacts that it has within the Egyptian police told the pro-government newspaper that Rashad was taken to the police station in Dokki, a neighborhood in Greater Cairo, on August 17 for a few hours before authorities transferred him to the National Security Headquarters in the town of Sheikh Zayed. The contacts did not provide a reason for his arrest, the news website said.
Ahmed Mokhtar, a lawyer for Al-Bawaba News, told the local rights group Journalists Against Torture Observatory (JATO) that the Ministry of Interior denies arresting Rashad or detaining him. Rashad's family and employer do not have information on the journalist's whereabouts or whether he is facing charges, according to al-Bawaba News and JATO.
"If Egyptian authorities are detaining Abdulla Rashad, they should announce the reason for his arrest and allow the journalist access to a lawyer and his family," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour, in Washington D.C. "Holding journalists incommunicado and denying them access to legal representation is an unacceptable way for a country to operate."
The Ministry of Interior did not respond to CPJ's emailed request for comment about Rashad's case. Al-Bawaba News did not immediately respond to CPJ's email.
Noha Abdelwahab, a lawyer for JATO who has spoken with Al-Bawaba News, told CPJ that the news website is not aware of Rashad receiving any threats or being harassed over his work.
Abdelwahab, who has spoken with the news website's legal department, told CPJ that Al-Bawaba News plans to raise Rashad's case with the General Prosecutors and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, of which Rashad is a member.