State security officers arrested Egyptian journalist Sayed Shehta on August 30, from his home in Giza, where he was self-quarantining after a COVID-19 diagnosis. Four days earlier, authorities had arrested his colleague from the same newspaper, Hany Greisha. Authorities did not provide the reason for either arrest.
Shehta edits Youm7, which covers local, regional and international news including politics, sports, entertainment and economics, according to two journalists and press freedom advocates who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity citing fear of reprisal. Since 2011, Shehta has published op-eds on local political and social issues in Youm7, according to CPJ’s review of his work.
On August 30, security forces arrested Shehta at his home in the town of Minya al-Qamh in the Al-Sharkeya governorate in northern Egypt, after raiding it and confiscating his cell phones, laptop, credit cards, identification card, and his printer, according to news reports.
During his arrest, security forces brought Shehta to a police station in the nearby city of Al-Zagazig, where he lost consciousness, according to news reports. Days earlier, Shehta tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating in his home at the time of his arrest, according to a press freedom advocate in touch with Shehta’s wife who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
Shehta was immediately brought to the Belbeis Public Hospital, also in Al-Sharkeya, where he was handcuffed to a hospital bed in the intensive care unit, according to news reports. As of October 1, Shehta is still held at the same hospital, according to the press freedom advocate. CPJ could not determine if Shehta is still sick with COVID-19.
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 Shehta in September 2020. In October 2020, CPJ called Belbeis Public Hospital but no one picked up.