Egyptian journalist Aamer Abdelmonem has been detained since December 2020 on false news and terrorism charges. Authorities have questioned him about his journalistic work in custody.
Abdelmonem is a freelance reporter and columnist for Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera, which has been banned in Egypt since 2013, where he covers political issues including corruption, as well as regional and local news.
He was formerly editorial director at local independent newspaper Al-Shaab, which has been banned since 2014, and independent news website Montada al-Wasatyea, according to a family member who spoke with CPJ via messaging app on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
Abdelmonem also posts about politics and human rights on Twitter, where he has more than 13,000 followers.
On December 19, 2020, state security officers arrested Abdelmonem from his home in Cairo. State prosecutors charged him on December 20 with spreading false news and assisting a terrorist organization and ordered his detention pending trial, according to Al-Jazeera, news reports, and the family member.
During his detention, state security officers questioned Abdelmonem about his recent Al-Jazeera articles, in which he criticized the Egyptian government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its crackdown on the state-affiliated Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, according to the family member and a local journalist and press freedom advocate who spoke with CPJ via messaging app on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal. Abdelmonem was also questioned about his past work with Al-Shaab.
State prosecutors have repeatedly renewed Abdelmonem’s pretrial detention by 45 days, according to the same family member.
Abdelmonem is held in the Tora prison complex in Cairo pending trial, according to the family member and the local journalist who spoke with CPJ. In Egypt, journalists can spend months, and even years, in custody, before being referred to trial.
Abdelmomen is diabetic, has cataracts in both eyes, and suffers from lower back pain due to sleeping on the floor as prison authorities have denied him a mattress, the family member told CPJ in September 2021. The family member said that his wife has been able to visit him and send him insulin shots and medication as he is not getting medical care in prison.
The Ministry of Interior, which oversees the police, the prison system, and the prosecutor general’s office, did not answer CPJ’s emails requesting comment on Abdelmonem’s case in late 2021.