In yet another crackdown on press freedom in Egypt, journalist Mohamed Mounir was arrested by security forces at dawn this morning and taken to an unknown location for several hours, according to a statement published by Mounir’s family. Several hours later he was brought before the State Security Prosecution for investigation, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights.
Mounir’s arrest on Monday came after the police reportedly raided the 65-year-old journalist’s home twice on Saturday while no one was home and rifled through his belongings. Mounir had posted a video on Facebook that he claimed was from a surveillance camera inside his building that shows security forces breaking into his apartment.
Mounir’s family said that his arrest came after his appearance in a television program on Al-Jazeera to talk about a dispute between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the newspaper Rose al-Youssef over a recent controversial cover.
Mounir is a founder of the Front for the Defense of Journalists and Freedoms. He previously worked at a number of newspapers, including Youm7, Masr Alarabia and Al-Ahly.
A board member of the Journalists Syndicate, Mohamed Saad Abdel Hafeez, said in a Facebook post that Mounir is the third journalist registered with the syndicate to be arrested in the past month, bringing the total number of syndicate members in detention to 16. A number of journalists not registered with the syndicate have also been imprisoned.
Meanwhile, Abdel Hafeez said journalist and sports critic Awny Nafae was arrested in mid-May while he was under government-imposed quarantine in a university dorm after returning to Egypt from a trip overseas. The arrest came after Nafae criticized the Ministry of Emigration for its handling of thousands of Egyptian nationals stranded abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic. He is being held on charges of spreading false news, misuse of social media and participation in a terrorist group.
On Saturday, writer and blogger Ahmed Abu Khalil appeared before the State Security Prosecution nine days after he was detained and disappeared. The prosecution ordered Khalil to be held in remand detention for 15 days pending investigation on charges of joining a terrorist group, broadcasting false news, and misusing social media in Case 588/2020, according to a source close to Abu Khalil’s family.
Egypt is the third worst jailer of journalists in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Authorities in Egypt use the charge of “false news” to imprison journalists more than in any other country, CPJ says.