Abdel-Rahman Adel al-Ansari

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Police arrested freelance photographer and documentary filmmaker Adel Abdel-Rahman al-Ansari on May 8, 2018 at a checkpoint in Cairo, according to local news website Mada Masr and the local press freedom group, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

The journalist, who is studying cinema production at Cairo’s French school, was arrested on his way to school, according to the local human rights group Adala.

Progovernment media reports said al-Ansari is accused of working with pro-Muslim Brotherhoods channels abroad to publish lies about the Egyptian government. The reports said that during questioning, the national security prosecutor accused the journalist of working for the Turkey-based Egyptian stations Al-Sharq TV and Mekameleen TV. Both stations are based outside Egypt because of the domestic crackdown.

National security prosecutors on May 20 charged al-Ansari with membership in a banned group and spreading false news, according to Ahmed Abdellatif, who is representing the journalist. Authorities have repeatedly renewed the pre-trial detention period used to imprison al-Ansari at Tora prison, according to ANHRI and news reports.

On August 12, al-Ansari’s lawyer, who works for ANHRI, told the local news website Katib that Tora prison authorities were not providing al-Ansari with the medication he needs for Hepatitis C.  

Al-Ansari is one of several journalists arrested as part of a larger crackdown and trial known as case 441, in which dozens of defendants in a mass trial face charges of spreading false news and being a member of a banned group.  

Al-Ansari’s detention came as Egypt’s crackdown on the press deepened in 2018; authorities ratcheted up their rhetoric against media outlets as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ran for and won re-election. Government officials and media regulators threatened the media with fines and prosecutors detained journalists for allegedly spreading false news.

Late in 2018, the Ministry of Interior, which has oversight of the police and prison system, and the prosecutor general’s office had not answered CPJ’s requests for comment sent via email.