Security forces arrested Abu Zeid at his home in the southern governorate of Beni Suef in September 2013 and accused him of publishing false news that harmed public opinion, both on the news website Suef Online as well as on social media affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports.
One month later, Abu Zeid was released pending investigation. In September 2014, he was re-arrested when he appeared in court and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to his daughter, Fatma, who spoke to CPJ. According to local press freedom groups and Suef Online, he was convicted on charges of publishing false news and joining the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government has declared an illegal organization.
Abu Zeid was a correspondent for Al-Ahram Gate, the online portal of Egypt’s main state-run newspaper, Al-Ahram. He also frequently wrote for Suef Online, which was critical of the July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the news website said.
According to Suef Online, Abu Zeid was arrested in connection with an article he wrote for the website on September 10, 2013, that criticized the local government in Beni Suef. The journalist has written several other articles for Suef Online that criticized the military-backed government.
Abu Zeid’s brother, Shaaban Abu Zeid, said at an October 2013 press conference that his brother had been interrogated about his views of Morsi and the dispersal of a pro-Morsi sit-in on August 14, 2013, in which hundreds of protesters were killed. The journalist’s brother said that Abu Zeid was also asked to swear that he was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports.
On December 8, 2014, the journalist denied any affiliation with the banned group in a letter he wrote from prison, which was published on social media.
Abu Zeid is being held in a prison in the city of Fayyoum, where his family is able to visit him regularly, his son Amr told CPJ. In the first few months of his arrest, Abu Zeid wrote articles critical of the Egyptian government for Suef Online. By late 2016, he had stopped writing altogether, Amr told CPJ. “What would he say?” Amr said.