Police arrested Mohamed Ibrahim, a blogger known as Mohamed Oxygen, at his home in Cairo's Maadi neighborhood on April 6, 2018, according to news reports that cited witnesses, and local press freedom groups. When he appeared in front of Cairo’s national security prosecutor for the first time 11 days later, the blogger was charged with being a member of a banned group and spreading false news, the local press freedom group, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported.
Some lawyers and pro-government media in Egypt say that under the law, national security prosecutors can repeatedly renew 15-day detention periods for up to six months. An appeals court can then decide to release the defendant or issue 45-day detention periods that can be repeatedly renewed until a trial begins.
Ibrahim was detained after reporting on government opposition figures and irregularities in Egypt's 2018 presidential election, according to his social media accounts and a YouTube post from his colleague Mona Ahmed. Ibrahim’s blog, Oxygen Egypt, featured critical reports on the presidential election and alleged police abuse. Ibrahim also managed a YouTube channel that included interviews on the street with Egyptians on a range of subjects. The reports did not specify which blog or content the prosecutor cited as reason for the charges.
On September 28, 2018, U.N. human rights experts urged Egyptian authorities to ensure Ibrahim is afforded every right to due process and a fair, impartial and public trial. He is being held in Tora prison, ANHRI reported.
Ibrahim is one of at least two journalists arrested as part of a larger crackdown and mass trial known as case 621, in which over 40 defendants are accused of false news and being members of a banned group.
Ibrahim’s arrest came as Egypt’s crackdown on the press deepened in 2018; authorities ratcheted up their rhetoric against media outlets as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ran for and won re-election. Government officials and media regulators threatened the media with fines and prosecutors detained journalists for allegedly spreading false news.
Late in 2018, the Ministry of Interior, which has oversight of the police and prison system, and the prosecutor general’s office had not answered CPJ's requests for comment sent via email.