Egyptian freelance journalist Mohamed Said Fahmy was arrested in May 2018 in Cairo on false news and terrorism charges. He was scheduled for release in 2020 and 2021, but his detention was extended after prosecutors added further charges.
Fahmy previously worked as a correspondent for the Qatari independent newspaper Al-Watan, and a reporter for local independent newspapers Al-Tahrir, and Al-Shorouq, according to a local journalist and press freedom advocate who spoke with CPJ via messaging app on the condition of anonymity, citing gear of reprisal. Fahmy also previously contributed to Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera Mubasher, covering local and regional political and cultural news.
On May 31, 2018, state security officers arrested Fahmy in the street on his way to the gym in Cairo, and confiscated his laptop, cellphones, and some money, according to news reports, a report by regional rights group the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the U.K., and the local journalist.
Authorities detained Fahmy in the state security headquarters in the Sheikh Zayed district of Cairo and did not disclose his location or whereabouts for 45 days, after which he appeared before the state prosecutor’s office, according to those reports and the local journalist. He was charged with false news and joining a terrorist group and was ordered detained pending trial, those sources said.
On July 15, 2020, authorities ordered Fahmy’s release from prison, until the conclusion of the investigation, according to news reports. Before he was set free, on July 24, 2020, authorities brought Fahmy back to the state security headquarters in Sheikh Zayed, to start his release procedures, according to those reports. He was held there for four months during which time his lawyer and family did not know where he was, the reports said.
On November 18, 2020, Fahmy appeared before the state prosecutor who filed additional terrorism and false news charges against him and ordered him to remain in detention pending trial, according to news reports and the local journalist.
Authorities ordered Fahmy’s release from prison for the second time on December 1, 2020, and transferred him to a police station in the Agouza neighborhood in Cairo to finalize his release procedures, according to those sources.
On January 16, 2021, prosecutors filed a third terrorism charge against Fahmy, and ordered the extension of his pretrial detention, according to news reports. Prosecutors repeatedly renew Fahmy’s pretrial detention every 45 days, said the local journalist.
While the Egyptian penal code allows detainees to be held in pretrial detention for a maximum period of two years, it is common practice for Egyptian authorities to file additional charges against detainees to extend that period, in what has become known the “revolving door policy,” as lawyers and local rights groups have noted.
Fahmy is held in al-Qanatir Prison in Cairo, according to news reports; CPJ was unable to determine the status of his health.
Fahmy was not previously included in CPJ’s prison census in 2018, 2019, or 2020 because his family did not go public about his case until March 2021, when it spoke to the local press.
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 Fahmy’s case in September 2021.