New York, July 19, 2021 – Egyptian authorities must immediately release journalist Abdel Nasser Salama and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, state security officers in Alexandria arrested Salama, a columnist at the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram and its former editor-in-chief, from his home, according to news reports.
Prosecutors charged Salama with spreading false news and funding and joining a terrorist group, and ordered him to be detained for 15 days pending trial, according to those reports.
Also yesterday, Egyptian authorities released journalists Esraa Abdelfattah, Mostafa al-Aasar, Moataz Wadnan, and Gamal al-Gamal, according to news reports. All four had been detained pending trial on terrorism and false news charges, according to CPJ’s research.
Those charges are still pending, according to a local journalist familiar with their cases, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
“Egypt’s release of four journalists from pretrial detention should have marked a new direction for the country, but authorities soured that good news immediately by arresting Abdel Nasser Salama on trumped-up false news and terrorism charges,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Egyptian authorities must release Salama immediately and unconditionally, and cease imprisoning journalists for their work.”
Last week, Salama published a post on his personal Facebook page calling on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to resign over his handling of a contentious water management dispute with Ethiopia, according to news reports and that local journalist.
Salama frequently posts political commentary on his Facebook account, which had thousands of followers, that journalist said. CPJ was unable to review the account, which has been taken offline.
CPJ emailed the Egyptian Ministry of Interior for comment on Salama’s arrest, but did not immediately receive any response.