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Abgeschlossen am 29. Januar 2020

Three journalists arbitrarily detained

AI-Index: MDE 12/1602/2019

On 26 November 2019, plainclothes police officers arbitrarily arrested journalists Solafa Magdy, Hossam el-Sayed and Mohamed Salah from a cafe in Dokki, Cairo. They confiscated their mobile phones, laptops and car. A day after, State Security prosecutors detained Solafa and Mohamed pending investigation on charges of «joining a terrorist group» and «spreading false news», while Hossam was accused of «membership in a terrorist group». In detention, NSA officers beat Solafa on her right arm and side for refusing to give them access to her mobile. The prosecutor renewed their detention for 15 days pending investigations.


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. Amnesty International believes that their detention is solely based on their writings and social media activism defending prisoners of conscience and victims of human rights violations, including their friend Esraa Abdelfattah, a journalist and activist who is also in detention.

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. The organization is 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.

The arrest of Solafa, Hossam and Mohamed come in the context of the post-September protest crackdown, the largest on dissenting voices since 2014, and two days after the raid of independent media website Mada Masr and the brief detention of four journalists from Mada Masr who were all released on the same day.

On 20 and 21 September 2019, scattered protests broke across Egyptian cities, calling on President al-Sisi to resign. The protests have been triggered by social media videos of Mohamed Ali, a former army contractor who has accused army leaders and the president of wasting public money on building luxury properties. Amnesty International has documented how the Egyptian security forces have carried out sweeping arrests of peaceful protesters, rounded up journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, lawyers and political figures in a bid to silence critics and deter further protests from taking place. 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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