On November 29, 2020 Egyptian prosecutors charged imprisoned photojournalist Sayed Abd Ellah with joining a terrorist group and extended his pretrial detention. (Credit withheld)

Egypt extends pretrial detention of photographer Sayed Abd Ellah by filing new terrorism charge

New York, November 30, 2020 – Yesterday, the Egyptian state prosecutor’s office charged imprisoned Egyptian freelance photographer Sayed Abd Ellah with membership in a terrorist group and extended his pretrial detention by 15 days, according to a family member who spoke with CPJ via messaging app on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, and news reports. On November 3, a terrorism court had ordered Abd Ellah’s release, as CPJ documented; the journalist has been detained since September 22, 2019 on anti-state and false news allegations, according to CPJ research

Abd Ellah is at least the second journalist this month to have his detention extended because of new charges after a court ordered his release, according to CPJ research.

“Despite years of repression by the government of President Abdelfattah el-Sisi, we still manage to be shocked by prosecutors’ brazen disregard for standards of judicial process and international human rights,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour from Washington D.C. “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Sayed Abd Ellah and stop filing new charges against journalists who shouldn’t be behind bars in the first place.”

An Egyptian police report said Abd Ellah was freed following the November 3 release order and was rearrested on November 28 at a bus stop in the northeastern city of Suez while “inciting citizens to assembly,” according to the family member and news reports. But the family member told CPJ that Abd Ellah has been in custody since his September 22, 2019 arrest.  

CPJ emailed the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the state prosecutor’s office, for comment but did not receive an immediate response.