Ahmed Shaker, an Egyptian journalist at the state-owned newspaper Rose El-Yousef, has been detained in Cairo since November 2019 on a charge of being a member of a banned group.
Shaker is an editor and reporter who covers the presidency, his lawyer Nabih el-Ganadi told CPJ. Before his arrest, Shaker posted on Facebook about the recent crackdown on press freedom in the country, according to el-Ganadi. As of late 2019, Shaker’s Facebook page was unavailable.
At dawn on November 28, 2019, state security officers arrested Shaker at his house in Toukh, a city in the Dakahleya governorate, approximately 90 miles from Cairo, el-Ganadi told CPJ.
Security officers blindfolded Shaker and brought him to an unknown location, where he was questioned for two days, el-Ganadi told CPJ. The officers asked Shaker about his Facebook posts, the lawyer said. El-Ganadi said he believes that Shaker’s charges are connected to his condemnation on Facebook of a police raid on the independent news outlet Mada Masr.
On November 24 2019, security officers raided Mada Masr’s office in Cairo, and detained three staff members, who were released later that day, according to the outlet. On November 20, Mada Masr had published an investigative report citing sources within Egypt’s intelligence services who said President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s son Mahmoud had been reassigned from a senior position within the General Intelligence Service to a diplomatic position in Moscow due to perceptions that he failed to adequately handle his duties.
On November 30, 2019, a state security prosecutor charged Shaker with membership of a banned group and ordered him to be held in pretrial detention for 15 days, el-Ganadi said.
Prosecutors have repeatedly extended Shaker’s pretrial detention period by 45 days including on August 25, 2020, according to reports by the local press freedom group, the Egyptian Observatory for Journalism and Media and the regional rights group the Regional Center for Rights and Liberties.
On March 10, the Ministry of Interior banned visitors, including family members and lawyers, from entering prisons as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19; as of August 22, visitors have been allowed on a limited basis, according to news reports. Another lawyer representing the journalist, who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal in September 2020, said they visited Shaker in prison after the ban was lifted, though did not specify exactly when the visit took place. The lawyer said that Shaker does not appear to have any health problems.
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 Shaker in September 2020.