Washington, D.C., January 15, 2020 — Egyptian authorities yesterday arrested at least four people at the Anadolu News Agency office in Cairo on allegations of spreading false news and operating without a license, according to a report by the agency and other news reports.
At about 6 p.m., police raided the Turkish state-run outlet and arrested Hilmi Balcı, a Turkish national and an administrator in the office, and Hussein al-Qabbani and Hussein al-Abbas, both journalists and Egyptian nationals, according to the news agency. They are being held in an undisclosed location, the agency said. News reports said that a fourth individual was also detained; CPJ could not immediately determine if they were a journalist.
“Journalists operating in Egypt should not have to work in fear that they will be used to settle political scores between countries,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must immediately release the Anadolu News Agency staffers arrested yesterday, and stop using false news charges to harass and silence the media.”
Officers examined documents, computers, and phones in the office until early this morning, according to that report. CPJ emailed the Egyptian Prosecutor General’s Office and State Information Service, which oversee the police and foreign media accreditations, respectively, but did not receive a response from either office.