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Journalist arrested for his work

AI-Index: MDE 12/2997/2015

Journalist Ismail Alexandrani was arrested on 29 November at Egypt’s Hurghada International Airport. On 1 December a prosecutor ordered him to be detained for 15 days to investigate allegations that he had spread «false news and rumours» and belonged to a «terrorist» group.

Ismail Alexandrani, an Egyptian academic and journalist, was stopped and questioned at Hurghada International Airport on 29 November. He had just arrived from Berlin, where he had attended a conference on «counter-terrorism» and presented a paper on the situation in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Ismail Alexandrani was able to call a friend to say he had been stopped, but about an hour later all communication with him stopped, his wife told Amnesty International. He was then questioned by National Security at Hurghada without a lawyer for 12 hours about his travel outside Egypt, she said.

On 1 December, the state security prosecutor in Cairo questioned Ismail Alexandrani for over eight hours about his journalism and academic research. The prosecutor ordered him to be detained for 15 days for further investigation, but without formally charging him with any criminal offence. Lawyers from the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), who attended the questioning, have said that the journalist faces charges of «spreading false news and rumours», as well as «belonging to a terrorist group and promoting its ideas.» The prosecutor had been expected to resume the investigations today, but has postponed them until 7 December.

Amnesty International believes that Ismail Alexandrani has been targeted because of his academic and journalistic work which has been at times critical of the authorities’ political and human rights records.


Ismail Alexandrani is a freelance journalist and academic whose research focuses on Egyptian politics and the situation in the Sinai Peninsula, which has seen an increase in attacks by armed groups targeting both civilians and security forces, as well as operations by the army to combat such groups.

Lawyers for ECESR have said that Ismail Alexandrani faces charges of belonging to a «terrorist» group that wants to undermine Egypt’s laws, constitution and state institutions, as well as encroaching on the personal freedom of its citizens and the state’s «national unity» and «social peace». Prosecutors frequently use such charges to target those they believe are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which Egypt’s government has said it considers to be a «terrorist organization».

Egypt’s Public Prosecution has frequently brought charges of «spreading false news» against journalists critical of the government’s political and human rights record. Amnesty International believes that, in the absence of deliberate malicious intent and harmful consequences, «spreading false news» should not be a criminal offence; and, in any event, imprisonment on that basis is a disproportionate restriction on the right to freedom of expression. The organization has repeatedly called on Egypt to uphold its international obligation to guarantee freedom of expression, as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Name: Ismail Alexandrani

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