Late Tuesday evening, Central Security Forces arrested a number of journalists and activists protesting on the Journalists Syndicate steps, former syndicate leader Khaled al-Balshy told Mada Masr. All those arrested were released shortly after and the sit-in is ongoing, according to eyewitnesses.
Among those arrested was prominent leftist activist Kamal Khalil.
Dozens of journalists commenced a sit-in inside the syndicate building on Tuesday morning, protesting Parliament’s ongoing discussions over Egypt’s contentious land agreement with Saudi Arabia.
Newly elected syndicate head Abdel Mohsen Salama called for a press conference Tuesday morning, during which he stressed that the syndicate did not officially call for the the sit-in, which he described as an attempt to cause divisions among journalists and involve the syndicate in contentious issues.
Among those protesting the Tiran and Sanafir debacle was former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, who was reportedly assaulted during clashes. Rights lawyer Amr Imam, who was also present, said he was standing next to Sabbahi when both were hit by metal cordons that police had used to close the roads around the syndicate.
Police forces previously stormed the syndicate building in May 2016, arresting two journalists in relation to protests against the Tiran and Sanafir agreement. This incident prompted a wave of protests among journalists objecting to police intimidation. Former syndicate head Yehia Qallash, along with two other board members, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rehim, were referred to trial on accusations of harboring fugitives. The three journalists were sentenced in March to two-year suspended sentences that were later reduced to a year.