The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement on Thursday calling for Egyptian authorities to charge or release Sabry Anwar, a journalist who is currently detained and allegedly faces torture in custody.
Anwar, a journalist for the privately owned Al-Badil newspaper, was arrested at his home in Damietta more than 10 days ago, according to his wife and employer. The journalist’s location is currently unknown.
Anwar’s wife, Heba al-Khedry, told CPJ that security forces arrested Anwar at dawn on February 21, raiding the house and taking his phone and laptop.
Anwar was missing for four days before Khedry was briefly able to locate and meet with him at the Kafr al-Bateekh police station. During their meeting, Anwar told Khedry that he had been tortured with electric shocks as police attempted to coerce him into confessing to crimes he did not commit.
Khedry was told by a police officer at the Kafr al-Bateekh station that Anwar would appear before the prosecution shortly. However, when she and her lawyer returned the next day, the same officer denied that Anwar was in the station. Since then, Khedry and her lawyers have been unable to find Anwar.
The Journalists Syndicate has filed a complaint to the Prosecutor General asking for Anwar’s whereabouts and expressing concern that he may have been tortured. The Hisham Mubarak Law Center also filed a complaint to the Prosecutor General stating that Anwar is being illegally detained and tortured.
In the statement released on Thursday, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour called for Anwar’s release, saying, “Given Egypt’s denials that Sabry Anwar is in police custody and his allegations of torture, we are extremely concerned for the journalist’s safety. The authorities must disclose Anwar’s location, come forward with clear charges against him, if they have any, and credibly and thoroughly investigate allegations he has been abused in police custody.”
There have been increasing reports of forced disappearances over the past year. Since August, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms has documented 340 cases of forced disappearance. Of those cases, 175 victims have been found and identified, while the others remain missing. Over half of those found and identified were already in prison, usually on charges of illegal protest or plotting terrorist attacks.
The Freedom For the Brave campaign documented 164 forced disappearances between April and June 2015, while the human rights group Stop Forced Disappearances reported at least 215 forced disappearances between August and September 2015.