Three journalists arbitrarily detained
Who are the three detained journalists?
Solafa Magdy, Hossam el-Sayed and Mohamed Salah are freelance journalists working for different media outlets. Solafa and Hossam are married and have a seven-year-old son. The journalists' written work and social media activism involves defending prisoners of conscience and victims of human rights violations.
On 26 November plainclothes police officers arbitrarily arrested the three journalists at a cafe in Cairo. Police confiscated their mobile phones and took Solafa's car, before taking them to the police station. Officers then verbally assaulted and beat Solafa when she refused to give them the access code to her mobile. Officers took them to an unknown location to perform their interrogation, where they questioned them about their previous journalistic work, employers and incomes; as well as their activism defending their friend, Esraa Abdelfattah, another detained journalist and activist.
The following day prosecutors ordered Solafa and Mohamed be detained under trumped-up charges of "joining a terrorist group" and "spreading false news". Meanwhile, their colleague, Hossam, was accused of "membership in a terrorist group".
Amnesty International considers Solafa, Hossam and Mohamed to be prisoners of conscience detained solely for carrying out their work as journalists and for defending victims of human rights violations.
Solafa, Hossam, and Mohamed's arrests follow the post-September protest crackdown, the largest crackdown against dissenting voices since 2014, just two days after the raid of independent media website, Mada Masr, and the brief detention of four of their journalists.
On 20 and 21 September 2019, protests broke out across Egypt, calling on President al-Sisi to resign.The protests were triggered by videos published on social media by a former army contractor who accused army leaders and the president of wasting public money to build luxury properties.
Since President al-Sisi came to power, the authorities have arbitrarily blocked at least 515 websites, raided and/or closed the offices of at least eight media outlets and arbitrarily detained scores of journalists. We are aware of at least 37 journalists currently detained since 2014. Among them, at least 20 journalists, who were arrested and detained solely for carrying out their work, including conducting field work, publishing a story or interview, or covering anti-government protests.
According to Egyptian human rights lawyers, the authorities have arrested at least 4000 individuals in relation to their perceived participation or support of the protests. The authorities ordered the pre-trial detention of at least 3,715, pending investigations over “terrorism” charges in the largest single protests-related criminal investigation in Egypt’s history.
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