Egyptian journalist Abdel Naser Salama has been held in pretrial detention since his arrest in July 2021 over a post he published on Facebook calling for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to resign.
Salama is a columnist at state-run daily newspaper Al-Ahram, its former editor-in-chief, Aref Salama, the journalist’s brother, told CPJ via messaging app. Salama is also a freelance journalist who contributes frequently to Al-Jazeera Mubasher, the news website of the Qatari broadcaster of the same name, covering issues such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Nile River management dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia, and anti-government protests in Egypt. In August 2013, authorities banned Al-Jazeera, which owns Al-Jazeera Mubasher, in Egypt.
Salama also frequently posts political commentary on his Facebook page, which has been deleted and had thousands of followers, according to the journalist’s brother.
On July 18, 2021, state security officers arrested Salama from his home in Alexandria. Later that day, the state prosecutor’s office charged him with spreading false news, harming national unity, and funding and joining a terrorist group, according to the journalist’s brother and news reports.
Salama’s charges stem from a post he published a week before his arrest on his personal Facebook page in which he criticized Egypt’s president for “wasting Egypt’s historical right to the Nile River water” when he signed a 2015 agreement with Ethiopia about control of the river, according to news reports. Salama called on el-Sisi to resign, the reports said. As of late 2021, the post is no longer available as Salama’s Facebook page has been removed.
Prior to Salama’s arrest, pro-government bloggers and journalists launched an online campaign calling him a traitor and demanding his arrest, according to news reports and CPJ’s review of the Twitter campaign.
Since his arrest, prosecutors have repeatedly renewed Salama’s pretrial detention every 15 days without the journalist or his lawyer present in court, according to the journalist’s brother.
Salama is held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security facility inside the Tora prison complex in Cairo and he suffers from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and muscle cramps, according to Salama. The journalist is not receiving any medical care in prison, and authorities are not allowing his sister to deliver him medications on her visits, said Salama’s brother.
On August 28, Salama’s sister visited him in prison for just two minutes before prison authorities told him she had to leave, according to Salama’s brother.
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 Salama’s case in late 2021.