Police forces confiscated the new issue of “Wasla,” a publication issued by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), from the printing house on Saturday night.
The police confiscated about 1,000 copies of the publication and arrested the print house worker who was present at the time.
In a statement issued by ANHRI, the center said that police officers at Ousim police station in Giza, where the print house worker is currently being held, refused to give lawyers a copy of the case documents.
However, they informed the lawyers verbally that the charges against ANHRI include printing a publication calling for the overthrow of the ruling regime and inciting against it, as well as affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The attack on civil society has started, and the intentions of the new power are becoming obvious faster than we expected,” ANHRI’s executive director, Gamal Eid, told Mada Masr.
“It’s only been a week since the new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power. This assault, in addition to his announcement of the new regime’s position towards civil society, are indications of the fate of freedom of the press and expression,” he added.
Eid described the charges against the center as “arbitrary and laughable.”
Wasla is a non-periodic publication that has been published since 2010. It collects and reprints material from blogs, online forums and social media accounts.
Seventy-two issues have been printed to date. The first issue was headlined “The ElBaradei fever” and documented the political movement that surrounded the return of the Nobel laureate, liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei, to Egypt in 2010.
Eid told Mada that he does not separate this latest incident from the climate of deteriorating freedoms in Egypt, asserting that Wasla does not restrict itself to any red lines because it depends on content published online, where there’s a higher degree of freedom.
“In the absence of transparency and the deprivation of people from their right to know their charges, we can only guess,” Eid added, saying that the reason for the confiscation could be the latest issue, which was headlined “His Highness the King” and ran a cartoon of Sisi on the cover wearing a crown. The issue included several blog posts criticizing Sisi.
According to Eid, the lawyers of the center are still waiting for the investigations to start.
“This case could represent the official start of a campaign against civil society and human rights organizations, and whatever the prosecution’s decision will be in this laughable case, ANHRI will not stop its activities and will continue to insist on the rule of law whatever the price we will pay,” he said.