Sabry Anwar, correspondent for independent newspaper El Badil, was arrested at his home by security forces on February 21, 2016. Anwar’s whereabouts were unknown for four days until his wife, Heba al-Khedry, was able to meet with him briefly at a nearby police station, al-Khedry told CPJ in March 2016.
Anwar told her that he had been subjected to torture by electric shock on four separate occasions and that security officers had pressured him to confess to crimes he did not commit. Police officers told al-Khedry and Anwar’s lawyers that they had no record of his arrest. They were not able to see him again.
The Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate and local press freedom groups filed complaints with the prosecutor general and the Ministry of Interior, requesting information about Anwar’s location and expressing concern that he might have been subjected to torture, according to news reports.
On March 16, 2016, the Ministry of Interior replied to the complaints, saying that Anwar had been arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by Homeland Security prosecutors, according to state media. On April 19, Anwar appeared before prosecutors in the Mediterranean port city of Damietta, who ordered him detained for 15 days, according to Anwar’s lawyer Ahmed Taha. Since then, he has appeared repeatedly before prosecutors for renewal of his detention orders.
Anwar was a correspondent with El Badil for about one year, covering local news in Damietta, according to editor Karim Saeed, Anwar’s supervisor at El Badil. Anwar wrote several pieces critical of local government in the weeks before his arrest, including a piece about negligence in public hospitals, as well as alleged government negligence in searching for survivors of a sunken fishing boat.
As of late 2017, Anwar’s lawyers had not been permitted to see the case documents or told what charges he faces, according to Journalists Against Torture Observatory. The journalist is held in Gamasa prison and his detention is repeatedly renewed for increments of 45 days, according to local press freedom groups.
The journalist, who has kidney stones, has been denied medical care, Journalists Against Torture Observatory reported. In September 2017, the journalist’s lawyer requested that Anwar be referred to a hospital, but by late 2017 he received no response, his wife told CPJ.
As of December 1, 2017, Egypt’s Ministry of Interior, which has oversight of the police and prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment about claims of jailed journalists being mistreated.