Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression

In the Grip of the Egyptian Authorities: A Publisher, A Company, Two Newspapers “Fact Sheet on Mostafa Sakr’s Detention Circumstances”

– On April 12, 2020, the security forces have arrested Mostafa Sakr, the publisher and the founder of the Business News company. After storming into his home, the security forces took Sakr to one of the National Security headquarters and then transferred him to the headquarter of the Supreme State Security Prosecution, on the same day.

– The Supreme State Security Prosecution, in turn,  ordered to detain Sakr for 15 days pending investigations. A day after the arrest, A board member of the Journalists’ Syndicate, Mahmoud Kamel, stated that the prosecution has charged Mostafa Sakr with joining an unidentified group.

– Later, AFTE’s lawyer was able to get information that Sakr is in custody pending investigations in a lawsuit N.1530 Exclusive Supreme State Security, without knowing the charges against him. However, other defendants in the same lawsuit  have been charged with joining a banned group, publishing false news, and misusing the social media networks.

– Mostafa Sakr is one of the prominent economic journalists in Egypt. He founded the Business News company in 2008, Which owns Al Borsa, an Arabic-language economic newspaper and the Daily News Egypt, an English-language newspaper. Sakr was also the editor-in-chief of Al Borsa newspaper from its establishment in 2008 until February 2017.

– In this fact sheet, AFTE traces back the series of measures taken by the Egyptian authorities against Mustafa Sakr, the company he contributes to its ownership, and its newspapers, in an attempt to bring all available facts to the attention of those who concerned with the press freedom and the investment climate in Egypt.

– On December 5, 2016, the committee of the seizure and managing Muslim Brotherhood’s funds issued a decision by Cairo Court of Urgent Matters carrying No. 231. The decision ordered to seize the assets, bank accounts, and properties of Mostafa Mokhtar Mohamad Sakr, the manager of the Business News company, and others, claiming that they belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

– On December 14, 2016, the Youm7 newspaper quoted sources as saying that the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority suspended trading codes of Mostafa Sakr’s stocks, according to legal procedures, upon receiving the decision. On the same day, the Business News’ legal counsel filed an appeal against the decision to the committee of the seizure and managing Muslim Brotherhood’s funds. The appeal provided all the legal and financial information of the company and the editorial policies of its newspapers.

– The Business News company made a statement that the company has been in the media and press market since 2008, and neither the company nor any of its employees or founders are affiliated with any political party or religious group, and the company has not adopted any political biases at any time, except Its liberal editorial policies.

– President El-Sisi published two articles in the Daily News Egypt which owned by Business News company. The first article was published in September 2014, as a message to investors about investment opportunities and economic reform plans. While the second article was published in September 2015, it came under the title “On alternatives to financing Egypt’s economic future”.

– By the end of May 2017, The Egyptian authorities have carried out many practices aiming to widely block press websites. This was in the absence of any decision from any official authority and without giving reasons or informing those whose digital publications were blocked. Al Borsa’s and Daily News Egypt’s websites were in the first list of the blocked websites. Note that the number of press/media sites that have been blocked until now has reached 125, according to AFTE’s data.

– On May 28, 2017, Al Borsa website published a statement that condemns the arbitrary measures against Al Borsa and Daily News Egypt websites and its blockage. And the two newspapers submitted a complaint to the Journalists’ Syndicate and the Supreme Media Council, regarding the blocking of their websites without any proper justification or valid legal grounds. since they are two licensed newspapers operating in accordance with the law.

– The committee of the seizure and managing Muslim Brotherhood’s funds has entrusted the management of Al Borsa and Daily News Egypt newspapers to Akhbar Al-Youm institution.

– Later, on March 18, 2018, the two newspapers have used alternative domains to enable their audience to access its content. Those domains haven’t been blocked until now, according to AFTE’s data generated by the OONI Probe tool of measuring internet censorship.

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