The Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) condemns the Supreme State Security Prosecution’s decision to imprison the three journalists: Mohammad Salah, Solfa Magdi and Hossam El-Sayyad, for 15 days pending investigations. AFTE considers the decision of detention as a victimization of the three journalists for exercising their right to freedom of expression. AFTE calls upon the Attorney General to release the three journalists who are currently in pre-trial detention pending the case 488 of 2019, Supreme State Security.
The three journalists were sitting at a cafe in Al-Dokki district in Cairo, when the police forces stormed into the place on the evening of November 26th, arrested them and seized Solafa Magdi’s car. The police also arrested two of the cafe workers and closed it. The police forces took the three journalists and the cafe workers to the Dokki police station, and later released the workers, while the Dokki police station denied that the journalists were inside it, according to AFTE’s lawyer.
AFTE believes that the victimization of Mohammad Salah, Solfa Magdi and Hossam El-Sayyad is linked to their role in solidarity with the human rights defender Esraa Abdel Fattah, who was arrested on October12th, 2019. When Abdel Fattah was arrested Mohamed Salah published his testimony on the kidnapping and intimidation of Abdel Fattah by the police, while Solfa Magdi and Hossam El-Sayyad wrote about Esraa Abdel Fattah’s accusation that the security forces tortured her.
To date, the Public Prosecution has not investigated Esraa Abdel Fattah’s accusations of torture by the police forces and has not summoned Mohamed Salah to hear his statements in the incident of the arrest of Esraa Abdel Fattah. AFTE stresses that the Public Prosecution must hasten the forensic report of Esraa Abdel Fattah and start investigating those involved in the incident. Instead, the prosecution allowed the police forces to arrest and victimize the three journalists. Solafa Magdy accused the police of assaulting her while in detention in the Dokki police station, and seizing her car and phone.
The Supreme State Security Prosecution held the three journalists in the same case involving Esraa Abdel Fattah, which is related to joining a terrorist group and spreading false news. Journalist Mohammed Salah was also interrogated without the presence of a lawyer, and the prosecution did not allow him to communicate with his lawyer before interrogating him.
AFTE wants to highlight the fact that Solafa Magdi and Hossam El-Sayyad are married and have a 6-year-old child; the Attorney-General must pay attention to this humanitarian circumstance, as the imprisonment of the couple is considered a punishment for their child.
AFTE expresses its grave concern at the continuing attack on freedom of expression, despite references and promises by the current regime and some of its supporters concerning respecting the law and protecting freedom of expression. The Public Prosecutor must endeavor to use his legal powers to release the three journalists, Mohammad Salah, Solfa Magdi and Hossam El-Sayyad, and to stop the practices of the Supreme State Security Prosecution, which result in the preventive detention of hundreds of citizens without legal grounds, which denies Egyptian citizens the right to freedom of expression.