Egypt: Mada Masr Chief Editor and 3 journalists summoned for interrogation by Prosecution

The Cairo Appeals Prosecution summoned Mada Masr Editor-in-Chief Lina Attalah and journalists Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin and Beesan Kassab for interrogation Wednesday at the Public Prosecution office in Rehab.

Mada Masr’s defense team stated that the four journalists will attend the summons tomorrow where they will answer questions while also adhering to the legal guarantees that safeguard their journalistic practice.

On September 1, a number of MPs and members of the Nation’s Future Party filed dozens of complaints against Mamdouh, Seif Eddin, Kassab, as well as Mada’s chief executive, whose name was not mentioned. The complaints accused them of publishing false news, among other charges. 

The summons for interrogation comes one day after Mada Masr’s defense team petitioned the Public Prosecution to merge the dozens of complaints submitted by members of the Nation’s Future Party against the three journalists and chief executive into one case before the competent prosecution.

Earlier Tuesday, Mada Masr submitted a memorandum to Journalists Syndicate head Diaa Rashwan and the syndicate’s board requesting that a representative of the board be present during the interrogations and that the syndicate’s legal team follow up on the matter.

Mada Masr also called on the syndicate to correspond with the prosecution to petition for the multiple complaints to be unified into one case.

The memorandum also asserted that the party’s aim in submitting complaints in various governorates was to “fragment the efforts of the defendants’ defense and to cause them to miss scheduled appearances before various investigating bodies,” adding that such an aim would amount to an “abuse of the right to litigation on the part of MPs within the parliamentary majority.” 

The legal complaints filed against the three journalists came as their names were in the byline of the August 31 edition of Mada Masr’s Arabic language news bulletin, which contained an item stating that oversight bodies had implicated prominent members of the Nation’s Future Party supreme body – which is close to the corridors of power – in “grave financial violations” that is expected to result in their removal from the political scene.

A number of parties have come forward over recent days to express support for Mada Masr in the face of the ongoing events. In a statement issued two days ago, Journalists Syndicate Board Member Mahmoud Kamel called the tactics that the Nation’s Future Party had resorted to by submitting dozens of complaints across the country was “obsolete.”

Kamel expressed his support for Mamdouh, Seif Eddin and Kassab against what he said were “attempts to intimidate them” and urged them to attend the interrogation sessions only under the auspices of the syndicate, with a representative member of the board and the syndicate’s lawyer present.

Khaled al-Balshy, the editor-in-chief of partisan outlet Darb and a former member of the syndicate’s board, issued a call for solidarity with Mada Masr and its journalists.

Balshy called on the syndicate to petition the prosecution to unify the complaints or publish a statement on what he described as the “games” being used against the institution and its journalists. 

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedom also published a statement expressing its solidarity with Mada Masr and its journalists, describing the complaints submitted by the party as “a new attempt to suppress the independent press and to intimidate journalists to prevent the publication of information and to restrict the work of online outlets, which is a continuation of the everyday violations committed against journalists, ranging from blocking websites and imprisoning journalists to targeting them with complaints.”