Egyptian voters stand in line at a polling station, in a referendum on constitutional amendments, in Saqiyat al-Manqadi village in the northern Nile Delta province of Monufia, on April 20, 2019. Authorities in the province arrested journalist Ahmed al-Bahy on inciting violence charges on April 16, 2022. (AFP/ Mohamed el-Shahed)

Egyptian authorities arrest journalist Ahmed al-Bahy on inciting violence charges

New York, April 18, 2022 – Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ahmed al-Bahy and drop any charges filed against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On Saturday, April 16, state security forces arrested al-Bahy, a correspondent for local independent news website Masrawy in the Monufia Governorate in Egypt’s Nile Delta region, from his home in the area, according to news reports and a local journalist and press freedom advocate who is following al-Bahy’s case. The journalist spoke to CPJ via messaging app on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.

On Sunday, the prosecutor’s office in Al-Sadat City in Monufia charged al-Bahy with inciting violence and ordered his pretrial detention for four days pending investigation, according to those sources.

Al-Bahy’s arrest stems from his coverage of an April 15 incident in Al-Sadat City, when police officers at the scene of a young man’s killing asked him to stop filming and to not write or publish anything about the case, according to news reports and the local journalist who spoke with CPJ. Al-Bahy complied with that request, but was arrested despite complying.

“It has become the norm that Egyptian authorities shut down journalistic investigations into political and human rights issues and imprison journalists covering them. However, shutting down an investigation into a seemingly non-political incident marks a clear attack against the journalism sector in Egypt as a whole,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ahmed al-Bahy, drop all charges against him, and ensure that journalists can cover issues of local interest freely and without fear of imprisonment.”

Al-Bahy covers social issues and human-interest stories in Monufia for Masrawry, and recently reported on the effects of the rise of gas prices on taxi drivers and the spread of foot-and-mouth disease among cattle, according to CPJ’s review of his work.

CPJ emailed the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, which oversees the police and prison system, for comment, but did not receive any response.

As of December 1, 2021, Egypt was the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists, with at least 25 journalists imprisoned in the country in retaliation for their work, according to CPJ’s most recent prison census.