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Masr al-Arabia chief editor remanded in detention on accusations of spreading false news

The chief editor of the privately owned Masr al-Arabia news website, Adel Sabry, was handed a 15-day detention order by Dokki prosecution on Thursday, according to Journalists Syndicate board member Amr Badr.

Sabry is accused of disseminating false news, attempting to incite protests and promoting an ideology that aims to alter the Constitution. The editor in chief was arrested after police raided Masr al-Arabia’s office on Tuesday evening.

Officers from the Interior Ministry’s Department for the Investigation of Artistic Products and Intellectual Property Rights initially raided the office under the pretense of examining software licenses, after they were reportedly informed the company was using unlicensed Microsoft Windows software, one of the officers told the prosecution on Wednesday. Upon examining the computers, however, officers found that the software was legal, Sabry’s lawyer Fatema Seraj told Mada Masr. 

Badr told Mada Masr that all the software used by Masr al-Arabia, which is among 500 websites to which access is currently blocked on Egyptian ISPs, was licensed and legal, speculating that the raid was likely related to another issue.

Mohamed Mounir, a journalist with the publication, told Mada Masr previously that one of the officers had said the raid was related to the implementation of a fine issued to Masr al-Arabia days earlier concerning its election coverage.

The LE50,000 fine was issued by the Supreme Media Regulatory Council on Sunday, after the National Elections Authority complained about the website’s published translation of a New York Times article claiming authorities had used financial and material incentives to mobilize citizens during Egypt’s presidential election.

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