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October 15, 2019 - Updated on October 16, 2019

Egyptian woman journalist tortured during interrogation

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns last weekend’s “unacceptable” arrest and torture of a woman journalist in Cairo – one of the latest victims of a wave of arrests of journalists in response to anti-government protests – and calls on the Egyptian authorities to end its harassment of the media.

Human rights defender, journalist and blogger Esraa Abdel Fattah was taken to an unknown location and tortured after security personnel arrested her in her car on 12 October. She was sentenced yesterday to 15 days in prison for “participating in a terrorist group,” “spreading false news” and “misusing the media.”

 

She has begun a hunger strike in protest against the mistreatment and torture to which she was subjected after her arrest. Her lawyer said police officers beat her in order to make her give them the password to her mobile phone, so that they could search its contents.

 

“The disgraceful treatment inflicted on Esraa Abdel Fattah is as unacceptable as her prison sentence on absurd charges,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Her hunger strike, which is not an isolated case, is indicative of the scale of the Egyptian regime’s crackdown and persecution of journalists and bloggers.”

 

Mustafa Al-Khateeb, a Cairo-based reporter for the Associated Press, was also arrested on 14 October and given the same prison sentence. The AP had just reported that Edinburgh University had recalled nine students who had been studying in Egypt after two of them were arrested.

 

Those detained in the current wave of arrests include Alaa Abdel Fattah, a human rights defender and blogger who was granted a conditional and partial release in March after serving a five-year prison sentence. Under the terms of his release, he had to spend every night in a police station but he has not been let out of the police station since 29 September.

 

According to RSF’s tally, at least 16 journalists have been arrested since a wave of protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government began on 20 September. Four of the 16 have been released.

 

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