Name: Samhi Mostafa Ahmed Abdelalim (Samhi Mostafa)
Occupation: Executive director
Place of work: Rassd news network
Date of arrest: 25 August 2013
Referral to criminal court: April 2014
First sentence by criminal court: Life, on 11 April 2015
First appeal: Accepted on 3 December 2015
Second sentence by criminal court: rigorous imprisonment for 5 years, on 8 May 2017.
Second appeal: On 18 November 2017 the court of cassation presided by Judge Magdi Abu Elela, scheduled the session on the 24 of March 2018 to consider the appeal submitted by the four journalists.
Legal status: Precautionary detention
Place of detention: Tora prison complex – Tora reception prison
Case number: 2210/2014 Agouza criminal cases, and no. 317/2014 high state security investigations
On 25 August 2013, a security force raided a residential apartment in the Maadi area, Cairo governorate and arrested 4 journalists and media workers. Security forces claimed that they formed a “media cell” emanating from a “Raba’a operation room” in charge of managing media coverage of the sit-in by supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi at the Raba’a Aladaweya square. In addition to the criminal charges, they were charged with publishing false news, possessing unauthorized transmitters for use in order to disrupt national security, etc. of the usual list of accusations. The four journalists remained in pre-trial detention for nine months before being brought to trial in April 2014.
In January 2014, the three journalists, together with Mohammed Sultan, entered an open hunger strike because of the daily cruel and violent treatment inside the prison. At the same time, the fifth circuit of the Giza Criminal Court began the trial of the journalists. On March 16, 2015, the court referred the files of 14 defendants to Mufti in the case known in the media as “Raba’a operation room case” and scheduled its sentence for 11 April. On April 11, the court sentenced the four journalists to life imprisonment.
On 30 May 30 2015, the Ministry of the Interior released Mohammed Salah Sultan after he relinquished his Egyptian nationality. The decision to release him and his deportation from Egypt to the US was in accordance with Law No. 140 of 2014, which allows for the deportation of non-Egyptian defendants who are sentenced in cases related to crimes committed in Egypt.
On 3 December 2007, the Cairo Court of Cassation decided to accept the appeal by the four journalists and the rest of the defendants of the case and agreed to a retrial. The Cairo court of appeal scheduled the beginning of the retrial on the 8th of February. On 8 May 2017, the Giza Criminal Court, held at the Institute of Police Sergeants in Tora, presided by Judge Motaz Khafagi, sentenced the four journalists to 5 years rigorous imprisonment, for participating in criminal intent and acquitted them of all other charges.
In its terms, the court ruled, “regarding the accusation of broadcasting false news, statements and rumors via the international information network, the court did not find that any of the accused had been caught, along with those documents or false news that were broadcasted abroad. Accordingly, the court decided to clear them of those charges.”
Although the journalists were mainly put to trial for those charges and despite their acquittal of the charge and that of joining an illegal group, their arrest not taking place in any of the areas of clashes, and despite the fact that the “evidence” against them included transmission equipment, and personal laptops, still the court decided to sentence them to 5 years for sharing criminal intent, almost indicating a political punishment of those journalists for covering events for “unwelcome” media channels. The sentence thus constitutes a violation of press and media freedom and discrimination between media workers.
On 18 November, the court of cassation presided by Judge Magda Abu Elela scheduled 24 March 2018 to consider the appeal by the four journalists of the 5 years prison sentence in the “Raba’a operation room case”. Thus, after the release of “Sultan” and his deportation, the four journalists are spending their fifth year in prison before concluding the various stages of their trial.