The Stop Forced Disappearances campaign declared that journalist Mahmoud al-Sakka, who has been missing for three days, has appeared in front of National Security prosecution. He faces charges of joining a banned organization and was sentenced to 15 days in jail pending investigations.
Sakka was reported missing on December 30 after being allegedly arrested by police forces in Mohandiseen, the independent online Yanair newspaper, where Sakka works, declared.
Former presidential candidate and leader of the Popular Current Hamdeen Sabbahy said held security forces responsible for Sakka’s safety and demanded that Sakka immediately appear before prosecution in the presence of lawyers.
In a report, Yanair explained that Sakka was in the Mohandiseen district of Giza when National Security officers arrested him, after which his whereabouts became unclear. The website also added that a group of officers raided his home and searched his personal belongings.
The police refused to provide further information about his location to his family, the website said, before they left without taking any of his documents or possessions. According to another report on the website, the Interior Ministry declined to offer any additional information concerning his arrest.
Editor of Yanair, Amr Badr, said that the Journalists Syndicate has submitted a complaint to the prosecutor general’s office demanding an official response to Sakka’s alleged abduction. The Stop Forced Disappearances campaign has published a copy of the complaint Badr submitted to the Syndicate, which was later forwarded to prosecution. Badr said in his complaint that the whereabouts and charges against Sakka remain unknown, and that his personal safety may be in jeopardy.
Interior Ministry officials were not available to comment on the issue.
Sakka’s friends launched a social media campaign named #السقا_فين or “Where is Sakka?” demanding Sakka’s immediate release.
The detained journalist is a former member of Tamarod movement, which worked on gathering petitions in support of the ouster former President Mohamed Morsi, and organized the June 30 mass protests that led to Morsi’s removal and takeover by the Armed Forces in 2013.
Sakka’s disappearance comes amid a wave of forced disappearances of activists allegedly carried out by the Interior Ministry. While hundreds are still missing, many of those who were reported missing were later located at various detention facilities.
In a study released by Stop Forced Disappearances, 215 people were forcibly abducted in August and September 2015, while 125 others went missing in October and November, including 11 minors. The campaign stated that 42 percent of those missing are students.
The study also revealed that 43 percent of those who were eventually located were found in police stations, with 28 percent re-appearing in public prosecution hearings.
Detainees mostly spend the time of their abduction in secret detention facilities run by National Security or military intelligence, according to the study. The campaign added that these detention facilities are not monitored by any civilian or judicial bodies.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in December that Egypt is second only to China as the world’s worst jailer of journalists, with at least 23 documented journalists currently in jail, eight of whom were detained in 2015.
CPJ slammed President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for using national security and terrorism as the pretext for a crackdown on dissent.
“Perhaps nowhere has the climate for the press deteriorated more rapidly than in Egypt, now the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide,” the report stated.