Portraits of journalists imprisoned by Sisi in Egypt

On the 10th anniversary of the arrival of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to power in Egypt, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) unveils the portraits and profiles of 16 of at least 18 journalists currently imprisoned in the country and reiterates its call for their immediate and unconditional release.

Update on 25/03/24: Four journalists have been released since this press release was published. Journalists Hala Fahmy and Safaa al-Korbagy were released on 08/02 and journalists Bahaa el-Din Ibrahim and Rabie el-Sheikh were released on 22/03. There are still 14 Egyptian media professionals unjustly imprisoned.

Only six of these 18 journalists have been tried and convicted. All of the others are detained provisionally and some have been held for much more than Egypt’s five-year legal limit on provisional detention. Most are accused of “disseminating false news,” “membership of a terrorist or banned organisation” or “endangering state security.” In reality, all were arrested because of their articles, reporting or journalistic work, or for defending their fellow journalists and the practice of journalism.

“The long list of imprisoned journalists tallied by RSF is an important reminder of the reality of President Sisi’s ten-year-old reign. These journalists have no place in prison. We demand their immediate and unconditional release.”

Jonathan Dagher
Head of RSF’s Middle East desk

These prisoners include such emblematic figures from the 2011 revolution as Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan, who is better known by his blog name, Mohamed Oxygen. After being released conditionally for several months, both were returned to prison, where they have been subjected to extremely harsh conditions. The latter tried to kill himself, while the former almost died when he went on hunger strike to denounce the conditions in which he is being held.

Several of these journalists are suffering from a lack of medical care in prison. They include Alia Awad, a photojournalist who was arrested in 2017 for posting a speech by a banned organisation. Sentenced to 15 years in prison in a mass trial, she is one of the three women journalists currently detained in Egypt.

Of the ten journalists working for the Qatari state-funded broadcaster Al Jazeera to be arrested in the past decade, two are still detained. They are Rabieh el-Sheikh and Bahaa el-Din Ibrahim. Al Jazeera journalists have been arrested repeatedly ever since Sisi seized power in 2013 and launched his witch-hunt against the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of Mohamed Morsi, the president he deposed.

The portraits of only 16 of the 18 currently detained journalist are unveiled below. The families of the other two said they would rather not publicise their cases at this time for fear of making their situation worse.

Ahmed MONTASIR, freelance business journalist

Alleged crime: “Publishing false news” in an article critical of the economic system.

Imprisoned since: October 2022

Judicial status: on remand

Mahmoud SAAD DIAB, journalist with the state-owned daily Al-Ahram

Alleged crime: Suspected of “collaborating with a foreign entity” because he was going on a reporting trip for a Chinese TV channel.

Imprisoned since: 6 September 2022 

Judicial status: on remand

Tawfik GHANEM, former editor of the Islam Online website and former Cairo bureau chief of the Turkish news agency Anadolu

Alleged crime: Charged with “disseminating false news” and “membership of a banned group.” The Egyptian military had monitored the Turkish news agency’s editorial policies closely ever since its coverage of Sisi's arrival to power on July 2013.

Imprisoned since: 21 May 2021

Judicial status: on remand

Hamdy AL-ZAEEM, freelance photographer

Alleged crime: Charged with “disseminating false news” and “membership of a banned group” because he is regarded as a Muslim Brotherhood supporter. 

Imprisoned since: 4 January 2021

Judicial status: on remand

Ahmad ABU ZEID AL-TANNOUBI, journalist with the newspaper al Diyar and researcher with the Arab Observatory for Press Freedoms

Alleged crime: Charged with “publishing messages giving the locations of ambushes by the security forces” (...) and “creating a page (...) tasked with organising media campaigns against the president’s office and messages in support of the Muslim Brotherhood,” which he is accused of supporting.

Imprisoned since: 5 June 2020

Judicial status: Sentenced to 10 years in prison on 2 February 2021

Mostafa SAAD, freelance reporter and photographer

Alleged crime: Charged with “disseminating false news” and “membership of a terrorist group” because he collaborated with Al Jazeera in Qatar, a country that is a political rival of Egypt.

Imprisoned since: 8 November 2019

Judicial status: on remand

Alaa ABDEL FATTAH, writer and blogger

Alleged crime: Charged with “membership of a terrorist group,” “disseminating false news endangering national security” and “using social media with a view to committing a related offence.” A prominent figure in the Egyptian revolution, he wrote many articles and blog posts criticising the government and corruption.

Imprisoned since: 29 September 2019

Judicial status: Sentenced to five years in prison on 20 December 2021

Mohamed IBRAHIM RADWAN AKA “Mohamed Oxygen”, blogger, founder of the Oxygen Masr blog

Alleged crime: Charged with “endangering state security” and “disseminating false news” for continuing to blog after being released conditionally. 

Imprisoned since: 21 September 2019

Judicial status: Sentenced to four years in prison on 20 December 2021

Badr MOHAMED BADR, editor of the newspaper Al-Osra Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera correspondent

Alleged crime: Charged with “membership of a terrorist group” and “disseminating false news.” The authorities already had him in their sights before the revolution because he participated in a conference organised by groups close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Imprisoned since: 3 December 2019 

Judicial status: on remand 



Mohamed SAID FAHMI, journalist with the newspaper Al-Watan

Alleged crime: New charges have been brought against him after each period of provisional detention expired. He collaborated with Qatari media. 

Imprisoned since: 31 May 2018

Judicial status: on remand

Alia AWAD, freelance photographer

Alleged crime: Charged with "terrorism and vandalism” after filming masked men who were members of an activist group.  

Imprisoned since: 23 October 2017

Judicial status: Sentenced to 15 years prison on 28 June 2022 during a mass trial of 215 persons accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abdel RAHMAN SHAHEEN, correspondent for Freedom and Justice Gate


Alleged crime: Charged with “abetting terrorism,” “disseminating false news” and “incitement and violence during demonstrations” after he worked for Freedom and Justice Gate, a media outlet accused of affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been declared a terrorist organisation.

Imprisoned since: 9 April 2014

Judicial status: Serving two different prison sentences amounting to a total of six years

170/ 180
Score : 25.1
Published on