Egyptian freelance photojournalist Hossam el-Sayyad is detained in Cairo alongside his wife, Solafa Magdy, and their friend Mohamed Salah, both also journalists.
El-Sayyad is a freelance photojournalist and multimedia reporter whose work appeared in news outlets including the Emirati news website Al-Roya, according to press freedom advocates who worked with el-Sayyad and who spoke with CPJ on condition for anonymity for fear of reprisal. In 2017, he founded the “Everyday Footage” project with Magdy to teach mobile journalism, according to the local rights group Nazra for Feminist Studies.
Their arrests came amid a crackdown between September and November 2019, during which several journalists, including the Egyptian journalist Esraa Abdefattah were arrested and authorities raided the Cairo offices of the independent news outlet Mada Masr. Salah was in a car with Abdelfattah, on their way to meet Magdy at the time of her October 2019 arrest, Magdy told CPJ at the time. Prior to her arrest, Magdy posted on Twitter and Facebook about these incidents.
On November 26, 2019, plainclothes security officers arrested Magdy, el-Sayyad, and Salah as they left a coffee shop in the Dokki neighborhood of the Greater Cairo Area, Magdy’s lawyer, Nabih el-Ganadi, told CPJ.
The officers took the journalists to a police station in Dokki, where they confiscated their mobile phones and Magdy’s car keys, according to el-Ganadi. When Magdy refused to unlock her phone, an officer cursed and beat her until she did so, el-Ganadi told CPJ. The officers blindfolded the journalists and took them to a location that one of the officers said belonged to the state security agency, the lawyer said.
The lawyer said that authorities questioned the group about their journalistic work and the news outlets they work for.
The lawyer added that the case file for Magdy and el-Sayyad did not mention the confiscated mobile phone or car keys in her case file.
On November 27, 2019, all three journalists appeared in front of a state security prosecutor who charged Magdy and Salah with membership of a banned group and disseminating false news, and el-Sayyad with membership of a banned group, el-Ganadi told CPJ. The prosecutor ordered them to be detained for 15 days pending investigation, according to el-Ganadi.
According to an Egyptian lawyer with knowledge of the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, as of late 2020 el-Sayyad is in the Tora Prison Complex in Cairo. Prosecutors have repeatedly renewed his pretrial detention by 15 days including on August 27, 2020, according to the lawyer and the local support group on Facebook, Freedom for Solafa and Hossam Case# 488.
Prosecutors did not file additional charges against el-Sayyed in the past year, according to the lawyer, but have added charges against Magdy and Salah, according to local news reports.
CPJ could not determine the condition of el-Sayyad’s health nor whether he has been able to receive visitors since a COVID-19-related ban against visitors was lifted in August, according to news reports.
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 about el-Sayyad in September 2020.