The Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered on Wednesday the detention, pending investigation, for 15 days, of Huffpost journalist Moataz Wadnan, who interviewed prominent opposition figure and former top auditor Hesham Geneina.
Wadnan is accused of joining an illegal organization and spreading news that could harm the state’s reputation.
Lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim told Mada Masr that prosecutors questioned Wadnan on Tuesday without a lawyer present. They recalled him on Wednesday to continue the interrogation, which Ghoneim attended and lasted for two hours.
Police forces arrested Wadnan and three of his relatives on Friday February 16, as he was on his way to visit family in Upper Egypt’s Sohag. Wadnan was kept in custody and the others were later released.
Wadnan’s arrest report was dated February 19, three days after he was initially apprehended, according to Ghoneim.
Wadnan was questioned over his interview with Geneina, which was published in Huffpost last week. Prosecutors asked him if he had filmed the interview without Geneina’s knowledge, which Wadnan denied, the lawyer recounted.
Ghoneim said Wadnan showed prosecutors the original recording of his interview, which depicts him asking Geneina and his family for their permission to record the interview before it took place. It was recorded with professional visual and audio equipment, not using a mobile phone, as was speculated.
In a statement published on Friday on Geneina’s daughter Shorouk’s Facebook page, Geneina’s defense team said, “Filming Hesham Geneina while he is unwell with a mobile phone without his knowledge shows he is ill. Releasing this recording and the statements he made regarding military prosecution is not representative of his conscious thoughts, and as such, the investigation must be halted and [Geneina] immediately sent to a medical team for treatment.”
The defense team asserted they have evidence to prove that Geneina has been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since his January 27 assault, when he was attacked in his car by three individuals, and sustained injuries to his eye and leg. Geneina has accused state institutions of planning this attack on several occasions, claims he reiterated during his interview with Wadnan.
Wadnan insisted during questioning that he did not edit any of Geneina’s statements out of context, comparing the recording to what was published by Huffpost.
Two other journalists are also accused in Wadnan’s case, Mostafa al-Aasar and Hassan al-Banna Mubarak, who both disappeared on February 4, before they reappeared at the Supreme State Security Prosecution last week.
During Geneina’s interview with Wadnan, which was published on February 11, Geneina claimed that former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan had documents stored outside Egypt that implicate the state in a number of violent incidents in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, a period during which the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was the acting governing body. Geneina’s claims were later refuted by Anan.
The controversial interview prompted Armed Forces spokesperson Tamer al-Rifai to issue a statement on February 12, condemning Geneina’s remarks. “We will use all constitutional and legal rights in protection of national security and to maintain the military’s honor,” declared Rifai.
Military prosecution issued a 15-day detention order for Geneina on February 13, pending investigations into a complaint filed against him by the general military prosecutor concerning his comments during the February 11 interview with Wadnan, who is also a reporter for the Ahl Masr online newspaper and the deputy editor-in-chief of the Baladna al-Youm online newspaper.