The Italian magazine Internazionale has awarded Mada Masr journalist Hossam Bahgat the 2016 Anna Politkovskaya prize for courageous journalism.
Launched in 2009, the award commemorates Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya who was assassinated in the elevator leading to her flat in 2006. Politkovskaya was known for her opposition to Russian President Vladamir Putin and for her work reporting from Chechnya during the Second Chechen War.
Bahgat began his career as a civil rights activist and, in 2002, founded theEgyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, which has served as one of Egypt’s most prominent civil society organizations. Since 2014, he has worked as aninvestigative journalist focusing on corruption and the Egyptian judiciary.
In November, Bahgat was detained after appearing for interrogation in front of the Military Intelligence Department following the publication of a report he had written on the military trial of 26 officers accused of organizing an attempted coup. Bahgat was referred to military prosecution on charges of publishing false news considered harmful to national interests and disseminating information disturbing public peace. However, he was released three days later.
Bahgat is currently standing trial in connection to his previous civil rights work. He has been accused of accepting foreign funding to harm national security and “disrupt social peace”. A Cairo criminal court has adjourned a hearing to decide on the prosecution’s request to freeze Bahgat’s assets until September 17.
Due to a travel ban stemming from the foreign funding case that he was issued in February 2016, Bahgat will not be able to attend the award ceremony in Ferrara, Italy at the end of September and will send a representative in his place. Deffendi Paola and Claudio Regeni, the parents of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, plan to attend the ceremony. Their son disappeared on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution. His body was discovered on the outskirts of Cairo in early February, bearing signs of torture.