Egyptian television presenter Khaled Ghoneim is one of several journalists who were arrested in 2020 after reporting on the impact of the COVID-19 virus on Egypt.
Ghoneim is the presenter of the talk show TV program “Al-Moshaakis” on local private broadcasting network Masr al-Hayah. His program has covered local political and social issues since 2015, according to CPJ’s review of some of the program’s episodes on the broadcaster’s official YouTube channel, and news reports.
On April 13, 2020, officers arrested Ghoneim at his home in Alexandria, according to reports by the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, a Czech Republic-based group focused on Egypt, and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), a regional human rights group.
On April 28, 2020, prosecutors charged Ghoneim with joining a terrorist organization, spreading false news, and misusing social media, and ordered him to be detained for 15 days pending an investigation, according to the Egyptian Front for Human Rights and ANHRI. According to ANHRI, between his arrest and his prosecution, Ghoneim was held in state security headquarters and denied contact with anyone outside.
In the days leading up to his arrest, Ghoneim had posted on Facebook criticisms of the lack of state media coverage of doctors and nurses who had contracted COVID-19 while treating patients in public and private hospitals in Alexandria. Al-Jazeera and the Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms both reported that Ghoneim’s April 11, 2020 Facebook post criticizing the government for its silence about the infection of several doctors at Al-Agami hospital in Alexandria with COVID-19 was the reason for his arrest.
In 2021, prosecutors repeatedly extended Ghoneim’s pretrial detention by 45 days, including on August 22 — the third time in a row prosecutors renewed Ghoneim’s detention without him or his lawyer present, according to news reports, and a local journalist and press freedom advocate who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
Ghoneim is being held in Tora prison in Cairo, his health is stable, and his family is able to visit him in custody, according to the same journalist, who is in touch with Ghoneim’s family.
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 Ghoneim in September 2021.