New York, June 22, 2020—In response to news reports that unidentified women assaulted the family of imprisoned journalist Alaa Abdelfattah outside Tora prison in Cairo today, as prison authorities watched, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Egyptian authorities must hold accountable those who beat, robbed, and forcibly removed Alaa Abdelfattah’s family from outside Tora prison, and allow an independent investigation into reports of COVID-19 infections at the facility,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “The aggressive way in which Abdelfattah’s supporters have been treated raises grave concerns about his health and conditions behind bars.”
In March, authorities banned family visits to Tora prison, and families of prisoners have voiced concerns about the coronavirus spreading in the overcrowded facility, according to reports. Last month, authorities arrested Abdelfattah’s colleague and editor of the independent news website Mada Masr, Lina Attalah, outside Tora prison when she attempted to interview his family about his hunger strike to protest prison conditions; she was later released her on bail, CPJ documented at the time. Abdelfattah’s most recent imprisonment dates to September, when he was arrested following a critical column in Mada Masr.