December 16, 2019

Egyptian authorities release two journalists and delay four

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately free journalists who remain in provisional detention although their release was ordered by a Cairo security court. Of six releases ordered by the court, only two have been carried out.

The victims include Badr Mohamed Badr, the editor of the newspaper Al-Osra Al-Arabiya, whose release was authorized by the court on 24 November. His family has had no news of him since 3 December.

His release was initially ordered in July but the order was rescinded after the prosecution appealed against the decision although he has spent more than two years in administrative detention. His family has been seeking explanations from the authorities ever since.

The Badr family’s anguish over the uncertainty surrounding his fate recalls the experience of the family of Mahmoud Hussein, an Al Jazeera journalist held since 2016 whose release was announced in May. His family was waiting to receive him only to discover after several days of uncertainty that his release had been cancelled on the grounds that a new investigation had been ordered. They were given no additional explanation.

“The Egyptian authorities must carry out judicial decisions and keep journalists’ families informed,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The constant toing and froing in judicial decisions and the way new investigations are suddenly announced are both absurd and cruel for the journalists and their families.”

According to the information gathered by RSF, the release of two journalists held provisionally since December 2017 – freelance photographer Ahmed Abu Zeid and one journalists with the newspaper El Dyar, Ahmed Bayoumi – should be imminent. Their release was announced on 9 December.

The same applies to Mohamed Al-Husseini Hassan, a journalist with the newspaper Al-Shura, who should officially have been released on 26 November.

Ahmed El-Sakhawy, a freelance journalist who had been held since September 2017 and Ahmed Al-Tukhi from El Dyar are the only two of the six journalists whose release has so far carried out in response to the security court’s orders.

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