New York, November 14, 2022 – Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ahmed Fayez and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On November 10, state security forces arrested Fayez, editor-in-chief of state-run newspaper Akhbar El-Barlman, from his home in Cairo, according to news reports and a local journalist following the case who spoke to CPJ via messaging app on the condition of anonymity citing fear of reprisal. On the same day, authorities charged Fayez with spreading false news, misusing social media to incite a terrorist crime, and belonging to and funding a terrorist group and ordered his detention pending trial.
Fayez’s arrest stems from a November 8 Facebook post in which he claimed that prison authorities are force-feeding imprisoned journalist Alaa Abdelfattah to keep him alive during his prolonged hunger strike, according to news reports and the local journalist. Abdelfattah, imprisoned since 2019, began a hunger strike in April of no more than 100 calories per day, and escalated his hunger strike to coincide with the November 11 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, including stopping drinking water.
“By arresting journalist Ahmed Fayez for speaking about imprisoned journalist Alaa Abdelfattah, the Egyptian government is exposing its vendetta against local journalists and the press sector as a whole,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Fayez, drop all charges against him, and stop arresting journalists for doing their job.”
Ahead of COP27, human rights groups and local activists pressured the Egyptian government to improve the state of human rights and to release Abdelfattah.
CPJ’s email to the office of the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the security forces and prison system, did not receive a response.