Mohamed al-Hosseiny was arrested on September 12, 2017, along with photojournalist Angham Ghoneim, while they were interviewing parents at the al-Fagala neighborhood in downtown Cairo, his father and the local rights group Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) told CPJ. Local rights groups have documented several cases where the Egyptian police detained photojournalists only for taking photos outside of tourist areas.
Al-Hosseiny, a reporter for the privately-owned newspaper al-Shoura, and his co-worker Ghoneim, disappeared for more than two weeks, and local police denied having them in custody, local media reported and al-Hosseiny’s father confirmed.
Mokhtar Mounir, a lawyer for ATFE who is providing legal assistance to Ghoneim and al-Hosseiny, told CPJ that he sent a letter to North Cairo’s prosecutor-general Mohamed Abdelsalam on September 19, 2017 inquiring about the journalists’ whereabouts.
On September 26, the journalists appeared in front of Homeland Security prosecutors for the first time, without authorities alerting their families or lawyer, Mounir told CPJ and local media reported. Prosecutors detained al-Hosseiny for 15 days and released Ghoneim pending trial, Mounir told CPJ. Al-Hosseiny is facing charges of “belonging to a banned group” and “disseminating false news,” his lawyer told CPJ. The journalist was questioned about his photo essays and video reports covering corruption for al-Shoura and freelance work for the pro-government broadcaster al-Asema, according to his lawyer. Al-Shoura did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment.
On October 8, 2017 the journalist’s family and lawyer were able to see him briefly when he was transferred to Cairo’s Supreme Homeland Security Court for arraignment, Mounir told CPJ.
The journalist is being held in Tora Prison Complex, and has been denied subsequent visits from his family and lawyers, according to his lawyer.
In February 2018, a Cairo administrative court agreed to refer to a higher court a request from the journalist’s father requesting that he be allowed to visit al-Hosseiny in custody, according to AFTE. Late in 2018, the appeal had not been heard.
As of late 2018, the courts have repeatedly ordered the journalist’s pre-trial detention period to be renewed, according to AFTE. Some lawyers and pro-government media in Egypt say that under the law prosecutors can repeatedly renew detention periods until a trial begins.
On November 6, 2018, a Cairo criminal court denied a petition requesting al-Hosseiny’s be released, AFTE reported.