Salah el-Deen was arrested while trying to board a flight from Cairo to Beirut, according to news reports. He was interrogated and accused of involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, the reports said. Salah el-Deen’s family said he was traveling for medical purposes, but other news reports and Hazem Ghorab, the general manager of Misr 25, told CPJ he was traveling to look for work.
Misr 25, a channel supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, was shut down when the military ousted former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. Ghorab told CPJ that Salah el-Deen was the news manager for the outlet and hosted his own TV show. After the outlet shut down, he could not find work elsewhere. Before working at Misr 25, Salah el-Deen was a managing editor for Youm Sabea, according to that news website.
Salah el-Deen’s TV show on Misr 25 was called “Matafi 180″(Firefighters 180). On June 26, 2013, one week before the station was shut down, Salah el-Deen aired an audio recording in which unidentified individuals called for Egyptian security forces to assassinate Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
On his show, Salah el-Deen regularly accused media critical of the Muslim Brotherhood of serving the interests of the former government of President Hosni Mubarak. On June 20, 2013, amid calls for nationwide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood, Salah el-Deen said he received telephone threats in retaliation for his criticism of anti-Brotherhood media. He broadcast the phone numbers from which he received the threats, which he said included statements such as: “Don’t you dare let me hear your voice again. …We will do to you what national security used to do to you earlier.” Egyptian police and national security are known to have tortured and killed Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist sympathizers under previous regimes.
A Cairo criminal court sentenced Salah el-Deen to life in prison on April 11, 2015. He was tried, along with 50 other defendants including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, on charges of “spreading chaos” and “forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government” during the dispersal in August 2013 of the sit-in at Raba’a Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports.
The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports.
Salah el-Deen’s wife, Najlaa Taha, told CPJ in late 2015 that the journalist was appealing the sentence along with other defendants in the case. The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The retrial was ongoing in late 2016.
Taha, who was able to visit the journalist in Tora prison, where he is being held, said that Salah el-Deen’s health had deteriorated. The journalist has chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and weak eyesight. In mid-April 2015, he was sent to Al-Manyal hospital in Cairo to be treated, according to news reports, but his wife says he needs additional medical care, which he is not receiving.