Security forces raided the headquarters of the privately owned Al-Mesryoon newspaper on Monday and handed management of the publication over to a committee from the state-owned Al-Akhbar news outlet, according to Arabic Network for Human Rights Information lawyer Nour Fahmy.
Fahmy told Mada Masr that the committee held two separate meetings with morning and evening shift employees to inform them of Al-Mesryoon’s new editorial policy under Al-Akhbar’s management.
Shortly after the raid, Al-Mesryoon’s managing editor Fathy Magdy, who was not present at the office at the time of the raid, stated that security forces confiscated electronic equipment — including laptops and cell phones — belonging to staff, according to Journalists Syndicate board member Amr Badr.
On September 11, the Committee for the Seizure, Management and Disposal of the Assets of Terrorist Organizations and Individuals decided to seize the assets of 118 companies, including Al-Mesryoon for Journalism, Printing and Publishing, the newspaper’s publishing company. It is unclear if Monday’s raid is related to this decision.
The decision is based on Law 22/2018, known as the Law to Regulate the Procedures for the Seizure, Enumeration, Management and Disposal of the Assets of Terrorist Organizations and Individuals, which was ratified in April by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Under the law, a committee consisting of seven Appeals Court judges, delegated by the president with the approval of the Supreme Judicial Council, is to oversee the procedures outlined in the law, including the seizure of assets. This law set a precedent by allowing for the confiscation of assets and their transfer into the state budget if a judicial order is issued and after the appeals process is exhausted, where previous iterations allowed for their seizure and management. Moreover, assets can be confiscated and deposited before their owners are convicted of charges related to terrorism.
Al-Mesryoon’s website is among over 500 websites that have been inaccessible on Egypt internet service providers since May 2017, including Mada Masr. No state body has taken responsibility for the blocks as of yet. Al-Mesryoon’s print edition, however, has not been halted.