Egyptian police are seen in Cairo on January 17, 2023. Authorities have held journalist Ahmed Montasir in pretrial detention since October 2022. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Egyptian journalist Ahmed Montasir detained since October

New York, January 25, 2023 – Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ahmed Montasir and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On October 9, 2022, authorities in Cairo arrested Montasir, a freelance reporter who contributes to the independent news websites Ida2at and Al-Manassa, according to the independent outlet Darb and a local journalist following the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.

Authorities placed Montasir in pretrial detention on false news charges and have repeatedly renewed his detention every 15 days, according to those sources, which said his most recent appeal for release was rejected on January 12.

Montasir’s arrest was first reported by Darb on January 13, which said his family had not disclosed his status earlier because they were afraid it could provoke authorities to extend his detention.

“Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ahmed Montasir, and drop all charges against him,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna. “Journalists in Egypt should be able to work freely and without fear that they will be imprisoned under opaque and often-abused false news charges.”

The local journalist told CPJ that authorities have not cited any specific reason for Montasir’s arrest. CPJ emailed the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, which oversees the security forces and prison system, but did not receive any response.

Montasir covers economic and social topics for Ida2at and Al-Manassa, and has written about topics including education and social mobility, according to the journalist and CPJ’s review of his work.

Egypt is one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, with at least 21 in prison for their work at the time of CPJ’s December 1, 2022, prison census. Montasir was not included in that census because CPJ was not aware of his case at the time