Biannual bulletin for Freedom of media .. first half 2016

Date : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016


AFTE relies on monitoring by researchers with the media freedom program as well as material circulated on news and other websites and the Journalists Against Torture Observatory. AFTE researchers then confirm and document the violations through direct contact with the victims, their families, or eyewitnesses to the incident; statements made by victims on their personal social media accounts, after authentication, or to the media; or news reports published by the media entities with which the journalist is affiliated.

Timeframe: the bulletin details violations against journalists from January 1, 2016 to June 25, 2016.

Place: all over Egypt.


Standards for inclusion

The violation of press and media freedom is included here if the following conditions are met:

  1. Authentication of the identity of the journalist: identity must be confirmed through a membership card in Journalists Syndicate, a work permit or assignment with a press institution, a press archive with a press institution, or the statement of a press institution through either its media outlets or officials.
  2. Authentication of the press institution: the press institution must be authenticated through a webpage, website, or publication of the press institution that includes contact information.
  3. Confirmation that journalist was on the job when the violation occurred: this is confirmed by a work permit or assignment for the press assignment, the statement of the victim or witnesses, or a statement from the press institution through its media platforms or officials.


Classification of violators

  1. Government officials: includes all civil servants on duty, with the exception of police or military personnel.
  2. Security bodies: includes personnel with the Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry, and regular armed forces.
  3. Private security: includes private guards, whether employed independently or through companies. If direct orders are given by the person they guard (for example, a government official) to commit the violation, the violator is classified as a government official. [not sure this is right—the wording was a bit confusing. Please review]
  4. Judicial bodies: includes the Public Prosecution and bench judges.
  5. Civil actors: includes all citizens outside of official state frameworks.
  6. Press or media bodies: all press and media outlets, including newspapers, websites, television channels, and media companies, with the exception of Maspero.
  7. House of Representatives: includes decrees from the House or violations committed by members of the House.
  8. Maspero administration: includes the various administrative levels within the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU).


Classification of victims

  1. ERTU: includes all state-owned television channels
  2. Private Egyptian channels: includes all television channels with main headquarters in Egypt.
  3. Private Egyptian publications: includes journals and newspapers.
  4. State-owned Egyptian publications: includes journals and newspapers.
  5. Partisan Egyptian publications: includes all press publications owned by any political party.
  6. News websites: includes all online websites that publish press material, which is every news or journalistic item not related to personal and private events.
  7. Multiple: includes several of the aforementioned bodies.
  8. Unknown: the victim was not identified.
  9. Journalists Syndicate: includes the syndicate or any of its representatives, including the head of the syndicate and members of the syndicate board.
  10. MENA: the official Middle East News Agency.
  11. Non-Egyptian channels: including all non-Egyptian television channels with main headquarters outside Egypt.
  12. Foreign agencies and newspapers: includes all foreign press agencies and newspapers with main headquarters outside Egypt.
  13. Multiple channels: indicates that more than one television channel was the victim.


Note: if the same body is engaged in multiple journalistic endeavors, it will be classified according to the most regularly structured endeavor. For example, in the case of a body that issues a print newspaper and operates a website, the activity of any journalist with that body will be classified as with the print newspaper.

Arrest: the process of taking the journalist into custody, taking him to the police station, and writing a report.

Unlawful detention: the process of taking the journalist into custody, taking him to a detention location, and releasing him without filing a report.

Arbitrary interference: the process of restricting the journalist’s scope of action while on duty for a period of time without taking him to a detention location.

Definition of a violation: this is each violation experienced by one journalist at a specific time and place. It is distinguished by four main variables: place of violation, time of violation, type of violation, and identity of the victim. For example, if three journalists are arrested in a particular incident, one is beaten, and another one is verbally assaulted, this would be calculated as five violations (three arrests, one assault, one verbal assault).

Definition of an incident: this is every violation experienced by one or more journalists at a particular time and place. It is distinguished by two main variables: place of violation and time of violation.

Note: any mass violation (banning coverage, for example) is counted as one violation against one journalist, since the intent is to collectively target journalists, not to target each journalist individually. There is also a data collection problem in identifying the number and identity of all journalists affected by such violations, which occur almost daily. Moreover, counting every victim in such incidents would abnormally inflate the number of victims.

Cases of arbitrary interference with journalists covering protests of the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border deal were not included since we were unable to confirm the majority of them.


  1. First half of 2016: overall police repression

The fact that a person is a journalist assigned to cover a particular event does not preclude being subjected to assault, injury, detention, or being accused of organizing or advocating the event.

Possession of a press card, other items showing one is on a professional assignment, or equipment that demonstrates unequivocally that one is a professional journalist does not matter. ‘Journalism’ is not a term that exists in the lexicon of the security bodies. During their training at various colleges and police academies, officers did not learn that there is a profession called ‘journalism,’ whose practitioners will be present at any political, economic, artistic, or social event or at any newsworthy or not newsworthy incident. This is proved by data here.

In the first half of 2016, the Egyptian police committed 134 violations against press personnel, or 44.2 percent of all violations committed against journalists in this period.

Police violations included 51 cases of unlawful detention, 38 cases of preventing journalists from doing their jobs, 21 cases of arrest of journalists, 7 cases of seizure and destruction or erasure of press equipment, 7 cases of assault or injury (including two gunshot or shotgun injuries), 6 cases of arbitrary interference, 1 case of denying a journalist entry to Egypt, and 1 judicial action.

Also noteworthy is that in the first half of 2016, civilians became the second most frequent violators of journalists’ right to work, involved in 61 violations, or 20.1 percent of the total in the same period. Violations committed by civilians include 31 judicial actions, 15 cases of assault or injury, and 14 cases of preventing journalists from doing their job. Some of these violations were committed in full view of police forces, which suggests that police are using civilians to harass journalists and impede their work. The main factor, however, for the increasing involvement of civilians is the attack by Murtada Mansour, the head of the Zamalek Club, on journalists and media workers, which he launched followed a decision by the Chamber of Industry of Audiovisual Media (a non-state entity) to ban him from appearing on television channels participating in the chamber. Mansour subsequently launched a war on journalists and the media, particularly newspapers and channels owned by Mohammed al-Amin, the head of the chamber. Mansour filed 22 complaints against journalists and media workers and barred some journalists from entering the Zamalek Club or covering its football matches on six different occasions. This means that Mansour alone was responsible for 46 percent of the press violations committed by civilians (

The judicial bodies came in third on the list of violators with 43 violations, including preventing journalists from doing their job and judicial actions, followed by government officials, with 28 violations. The House of Representatives (secretariat, speaker, members) committed 21 violations, while press and media bodies, private security or guards, and the Maspero administration committed 8, 6, and 2 violations respectively.


Type of violations

Preventing journalists from doing their job was the most common type of violation against journalists, with 122 cases, followed by judicial actions (55 cases), unlawful detention (52 cases), assault or injury (25 cases, including two gunshot injuries), arrest (21 cases), seizure and destruction or erasure of equipment (8 cases), arbitrary interference (6 cases), suspension of broadcast or a program or banning of an episode (6 cases), banning of an article (4 cases), raiding or closing a press or media office (2 cases), denying a journalist entry to Egypt (1 case), and work suspension (1 case).


Cases according to type of violation and violating body

Type of violation/ Violating body Maspero Security bodies Press and media bodies Judicial bodies Private security Civilian House of Rep. Govt. officials


Unlawful detention 0 51 0 0 0 1 0 0 52
Arbitrary interference 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
Gunshot or shotgun injury 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Seizure and destruction or erasure of equipment 0 7 0 0 0 0 0 1 8
Assault or injury 0 5 0 0 1 15 1 1 23
Arrest 0 21 0 0 0 0 0 0 21
Judicial action 0 1 0 13 0 31 0 10 55
Raid or closure of press or media office 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Article ban 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 4
Preventing doing job 0 38 0 30 5 14 19 16 122
Denying entry to Egypt 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Suspension of broadcast or program or ban on episode 2 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 6
Suspension from work 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 2 134 8 43 6 61 21 28 303


Violations by time

April led the first half of 2016 with the most violations, with 94 cases, due to the protests by Egyptians against the agreement on the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border. The violations encountered by journalists during their coverage of these protests will be addressed in detail in a separate section.

January came second on the list, with 82 violations, followed by June (35 violations), May (34 violations), and February and March (29 violations each).


Violations by month
January 82
February 29
March 29
April 94
May 34
June 35
Total 303


Violations by place

Most violations occurred in the Cairo and Giza governorates, with 179 violations in Cairo (59 percent of all violations) and 91 violations in Giza (30 percent of the total); 33 violations were committed in other governorates.

The disparity does not indicate a difference in various bodies’ treatment of journalists in different governorates. Rather, Cairo and Giza are the center for any political event requiring coverage by journalists.


Violations by governorate
Aswan 6
Alexandria 3
Ismailiya 1
Luxor 2
Giza 91
Daqahliya 2
Suez 2
Sharqiya 1
Gharbiya 2
Fayyoum 1
Cairo 179
Qalyoubiya 3
Minya 2
New Valley 1
Beni Soueif 2
Port Said 2
Damietta 2
Qena 1
Total 303


Journalism is a crime

Of the 303 violations documented in the first half of this year, 107 of them, or 35.3 percent, were collective violations that involved several victims, meaning that all journalists and media personnel were prohibited from covering a particular event.

Private Egyptian print media came in second on the list of victims, with 83 violations against them, or 27.4 percent, followed by private Egyptian television channels (30 cases), news websites (23 cases), and 14 cases of mass violations against television channels.

Journalists with state-owned publications or media workers at Maspero did not escape violations on the job. Journalists with state-owned publications experienced 11 violations, while 4 violations were committed against Maspero media personnel.

The Journalists Syndicate was raided and its representatives subjected to 7 violations, in a clear indication of the status of freedom of the press in Egypt in the first half of this year.


Violations by victim
News websites 23
Non-Egyptian channel 3
Private Egyptian channel 30
Multiple channels 14
Unknown 11
Multiple 107
Partisan Egyptian publication 2
Private Egyptian publication 83
State-owned Egyptian publication 9
Journalists Syndicate 7
Foreign agencies and newspapers 6
Total 303


Violations by type of victim

Journalists—meaning editors, correspondents, chief editors, and columnists—were the most frequent targets for violations, with 128 violations of 42.2 percent of the total. Collective violations against all journalists, photojournalists, and media workers came in second (84 violations), followed by media workers (49 cases), and photojournalists (41 cases).


Violations by type of victim
Media worker 49
Television program 1
Journalist 123
Unknown 1
Channel 2
Multiple 84
Photojournalist 41
Website 1
News agency 1
Total 303


Violations by gender of victim
Male 115
Female 18
Male and female 83
Unknown 87
Total 303


  1. Violations experienced by journalists while covering Tiran and Sanafir protests


Violations committed against journalists while covering Tiran and Sanafir protests, by type of violation
Unlawful detention 45
Gunshot or shotgun injury 2
Assault or injury 4
Arrest and charge 3
Article ban 3
Suspension of broadcast or program or ban on episode 1
Work suspension 1
Total 59


Violations committed against journalists while covering Tiran and Sanafir protests, by violator
Security bodies 53
Press or media body 5
Civilians 1
Total 59


Violations committed against journalists while covering Tiran and Sanafir protests, by type of victim
Media worker 9
Television program 1
Journalist 30
Photojournalist 19
Total 59


Note: cases in which journalists faced arbitrary interference while covering the Tiran and Sanafir protests were not included as we were unable to confirm most of them.


III. Imprisoned journalists

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