Nora Younis was arrested by police officers claiming to be members of the General Authority for Censorship of Works of Art, which is attached to the interior ministry. After searching the website’s offices and seizing cameras and computers, they took her to a police station in the Cairo suburb of Maadi.
According to the Egyptian Observatory for Journalism and Media, Younis is accused of operating an unlicensed website. Al-Manassa says it submitted all the documents needed for a licence to the Supreme Council for Media Regulation in October 2018, but never received a reply.
“The Egyptian judicial authorities must release Nora Younis at once, drop all charges against her and stop persecuting independent media,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “By means of constant administrative stalling, the authorities prevented Al-Manassa from legalizing its situation, so that the lack of an official permit to operate became a pretext for judicial proceedings.”
Before founding Al-Manassa in 2015, Younis ran the online daily Al-Masry Al-Youm and worked for the Washington Post. The Al-Manassa site has been blocked in Egypt since 2017, like that of another independent media outlet, Mada Masr, whose editor, Lina Attalah, was detained last November and again in May, when she was held for several hours and the website’s premises were searched.
Egypt is ranked 166th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.