Washington, D.C., April 6, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release three journalists who have been taken into police custody or disclose their whereabouts and accusations against them.
Adel Eissa, a freelance photojournalist, Ahmed Abdel Gawad, a photographer with the pro-government daily al-Shorouk, and blogger Mohamed Ibrahim were detained after reporting on government opposition figures and irregularities in Egypt’s recent presidential election, according to news reports citing witnesses, colleagues, and lawyers.
“Censoring journalists shows the fragility of the Egyptian authorities, rather than strength,” CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government has fostered a climate of fear in which journalists do not know if, or when, they will face arrest or other forms of harassment. We call on Egyptian authorities to make public the location of these journalists and any charges against them, and stop arbitrarily arresting members of the media.”
CPJ’s requests for comment sent via email to Egyptian media regulators and the prosecutor general’s office were not immediately answered.
Eissa and Abdel Gawad were arrested late last night at a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Cairo, according to the local independent news website Mada Masr.
Hader Saleh, a photojournalist with the news website Mobtada and Eissa’s fiancée, reported his arrest on her Facebook page.
Abdel Gawad’s family told Mada Masr that they sent a message to the public prosecutor and the Interior Ministry requesting information, but have not heard back. Saleh today wrote in a Facebook post that she does not know Eissa’s whereabouts.
Police at 3 a.m. today arrested Mohamed Ibrahim, also known as Mohamed Oxygen, at his home in Cairo’s Maadi neighborhood, according to his social media accounts and a YouTube post from his colleague Mona Ahmed. CPJ was unable to determine who has been posting to Ibrahim’s accounts.
Ibrahim runs a blog, Oxygen Egypt, which featured critical reports on the presidential election and alleged police abuse. Ibrahim also manages a YouTube channel that shows street interviews with Egyptians of a wide range of opinions.
According to Ahmed and posts on Ibrahim’s social media accounts, the journalist’s whereabouts are unknown.
In a separate case, a local photojournalist for the weekly al-Masriya, Wagdy Khaled, went missing several weeks ago and turned up yesterday in a Cairo police station, according to Mada Masr and a Facebook post from former Journalists Syndicate board member Khaled al-Balshy.
Egyptian authorities stepped up censorship during last month’s presidential campaign, arresting journalists on “fake news” and national security charges, enforcing fines, and raiding and shutting down and blocking news websites, according to CPJ research.