Two journalists were arrested in a dawn raid of their homes on Saturday, the Journalists Syndicate said in a statement that lambasted security authorities for aggressively targeting media workers and violating their basic rights.
The prosecutor general approved the release of one of the journalists, Sobhy Shoaib, from the Bassioun Police Station in the Gharbiya governorate on Sunday after the syndicate released its statement, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said.
However, Abdel Rahman Mohamed, deputy editor-in-chief of the privately owned Al-Mesryoon news site and a reporter for the National Company for Distribution, is reportedly still in custody at the Qanater al-Khairiya Police Station, pending investigations into charges that he belongs to a banned organization.
Mohamed was arrested from his home in Qalyubiya early on November 14. According to the aforementioned statement, police forces also raided his residence and “terrorized his family.”
Journalists Syndicate President Yehia Qallash issued a separate statement exhorting the prosecutor general and interior minister to immediately order Mohamed’s release, arguing the charges against him were “baseless and pre-fabricated.”
Al-Mesryoon chief editor Mahmoud Sultan published an op-ed adamantly dismissing claims that Mohamed belonged to any banned or radicalized group. He confirmed that Mohamed was a specialist in the field of political Islam, but did not identify in any way with that school of thought.
Mohamed’s reporting shed light on rampant corruption in Egyptian businesses, Sultan said, but now he’s in jail while many of these corrupt businessmen have gone free.
A 2013 report from the Committee to Protect Journalists found that Egypt was the third most dangerous country for reporters — coming in only after Syria and Iraq — and conditions have only continued to worsen, Sultan wrote.
The Journalists Syndicate denounced tactics like dawn raids, punitive detentions and forced disappearances that security forces wield against reporters. The statement urged media professionals to adopt “a serious and unified stance against the expanding practice of arresting journalists and referring them to criminal hearings on the basis of faulty charges and questionable investigations.”
The statement further condemned the arrests of other journalists, including Mada Masr contributor Hossam Baghat, due to their writing.
The Interior Ministry is directly “responsible for the lives and well-being” of the 33 journalists currently detained or imprisoned, who must all be immediately released, the statement said.
The syndicate called for new legislation to safeguard and uphold basic rights for journalists while deregulating the sector and giving reporters more freedom to do their jobs.