Egypt: Journalists Arbitrarily Arrested and Beaten as Repression of Media Grows

Esraa Abdel Fattah was detained on Saturday, October 12 by plainclothes police officers and the following morning another journalist Mostafa al-Khatib was also arrested.

These arrests came after Italian journalist Francesca Borri was detained on arrival at Cairo Airport on Friday, October 11. The journalist, who was released and sent back to Italy hours later said that she was denied entry to the country by Egyptian national security officers with no official reason. She claimed she was arrested because of her reporting on the case of an Italian student who was reportedly tortured to death by Egyptian security agents in 2016.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined the Egyptian Syndicate of Journalists in condemning the arbitrary arrest of journalists and called on the authorities to immediately stop the repression against media.

At the time of her arrest, Esraa Abdel Fattah was with a friend who said both of them were beaten by the police officer. According to him, Esraa Abdel Fattah denounced the police brutality during her testimony before State public prosecutors on Sunday 13 and she said she was starting a hunger strike until the aggressions were recognized.

Abdel Fattah is a journalist and activist who founded the 6th-April movement in 2008 that gathered millions of Egyptians to protest against Hosni Moubarak.

On Sunday, October 13th, Mostafa al-Khatib, an Egyptian journalist who works for the Associated Press (AP), was also arrested. Media reports claim he was detained due to the AP published a report on the arrest of British students a few days ago before his arrest.

Whilst these arrests were being carried out, three journalists who were detained in the last weeks were released: Nasser Abd El Hafez, Engi Abd El Wahab and Ibrahim El Darawy.

Protests against al-Sisi have spread across Egypt since September 20. Media reports say that more than 3000 people, including activists, media workers and lawyers, have been arrested during recent weeks.

The IFJ urges the authorities to immediately release all detained journalists and calls on the government to stop the repression against media, which aims to spread fear and self-censorship among Egyptian journalists. The arbitrary arrest of journalists and police brutality against them violate national laws and breach the constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression in Egypt.