Mustafa, co-founder of the news website Rassd was arrested on August 25, 2013, in the home of the son of a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Rassd Executive Director Abdullah al-Fakharany and Amgad TV presenter Mohamed al-Adly were arrested along with him.
In February 2014, the three were charged with “spreading chaos” and “forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government” during the dispersal of the sit-in at Raba’a Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.
The prosecutor-general accused the Muslim Brotherhood of using several media outlets, including Rassd and Amgad TV, to support its plot to take over the government and spread lies about the military and the government.
Ahmed Helmy, Mustafa’s lawyer, denied all of the charges against the journalists.
A Cairo criminal court sentenced all three journalists to life in prison on April 11, 2015. They had been tried along with dozens of other defendants including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports.
The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, on the basis that there was insufficient evidence for the conviction, according to news reports.
On May 8, a Giza criminal court reduced the sentence to five years on appeal, Abdullah al-Falharany’s brother Mohamed told CPJ and news outlets reported.
The same month, a Cairo criminal court listed al-Fakharany, Mustafa, and al-Adly on the country’s “terrorism list,” according to news reports. Under Egypt’s counterterrorism law, approved by President el-Sisi in August 2015, individuals convicted of or facing terror charges can be listed on the “terrorism list.” Those listed are banned, for five years, from travelling, renewing passports, and working in the public sector. They are also subject to an asset freeze.
Mustafa is being held in Tora prison, southeast of Cairo. Mustafa suffers from complications from a broken nose and an illness in the digestive system, according to statements made by his family on social media and members of the Free Fakharany campaign. Mustafa’s wife, Yasmin Soliman, told CPJ in September 2017 that prison wardens assaulted the journalist in early 2016, fracturing his jaw. She said that the prison had denied Mustafa medical care for the injury.