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MENA journalist reporter missing in suspected case of forced disappearance

A reporter at Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency (MENA) was reported missing Thursday in a suspected case of forced disappearance. Omar Sayed Taha Ibrahim was arrested from his home by security forces at dawn on November 9.

Ibrahim’s father, Sayed Taha Ibrahim, who is also a managing editor at MENA, demanded on Thursday that his son’s whereabouts be revealed, having been unable to obtain any information about him since the arrest three weeks ago.

Approximately 25 policemen had raided their place of residence in the Helwan suburb of 15 May and interrogated Omar at length before taking him away, Sayed told Mada Masr.

When Sayed asked the police what it was about, they responded that it was just a false complaint and they needed to take Omar to the station to wrap up a police report. But when Sayed went to the 15 May Police Station hours later, he was told there was no one there by that name and that no police force had left the station that day.

When Sayed approached MENA’s editor in chief and chairperson, Ali Hassan, to request help in finding Omar, Hassan told him that he could not help. Sayed said he later learnt that Hassan had terminated Omar’s contract and told MENA security staff not to admit him into the building.

The Egyptian police have denied allegations of responsibility for forcible disappearance on several occasions throughout the past two years, during which several political activists and alleged terrorists have disappeared.

The National Council for Human Rights issued a report on forced disappearance last year, documenting 266 cases based on family complaints between April 2015 and March 2016, while an independent campaign against forced disappearance documented  378 cases in Egypt between August 2016 and mid August 2017, in its second annual report.

This September, Ibrahim Abdel Moneim Metwally, a lawyer at the Association for the Families of the Forcibly Disappeared, disappeared at Cairo airport on his way to a Geneva conference to meet the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. Metwally, whose own son was forcibly disappeared in 2013, surfaced two days later before the State Security Prosecution in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement.

In May, security forces arrested Hanan Badr Eddin, a founder of the association and the wife of Khaled Hafez, who has been missing since 2013. Badr went missing while visiting a detainee who was located in Qanater Prison having previously been forcibly disappeared, according to a statement by 10 human rights organizations which demanded her release.

Islam Salama, another lawyer who works with families of the forcibly disappeared was arrested in March 2016 and held incommunicado before he was released in June 2016.

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