Egypt poised to add news media to list of “terrorist entities”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a proposed legislative amendment expanding Egypt’s official list of “terrorist entities” to include news media that aim to cause “harm.” It explicitly targets journalists and would aggravate the already fragile press freedom situation in Egypt, RSF said.

Approved by the Egyptian parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee on 27 January, the proposed amendment to Law No. 8 of 2015 on terrorist entities would mean that media outlets and social media could be added to the regime’s list of “associations, organizations or groups” regarded as terrorist.

The amendment would expand the list of “terrorist entities” to include “TV channels, print media, radio stations and social media” inside or outside the country that intend “to harm individuals, terrorize them or endanger their lives, freedoms, rights or security.”

“This amendment is extremely worrying because it likens media outlets to terrorist organizations,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The Egyptian authorities have been using the terrorist threat to harass the media for years. This de facto situation is now going to be enshrined in the law.”

According to the information obtained by RSF, the amendment could be adopted and implemented as soon as it is approved by the House of Representatives.

Most of the journalists currently held in Egyptian prison are charged with “spreading false news” or “membership of a terrorist group.” This amendment would reinforce Egypt’s legislative arsenal, which was already modified in 2015 to enable journalists to be given long jail terms.

Egypt is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 29.01.2020