London, MINA – Journalism in Egypt has effectively been the target of crime over the past four years, when authorities suppress media and muzzle dissent, according to Amnesty International’s statement in a report released Sunday, May 5.
The London-based agency said as the number of coronavirus infections in Egypt continued to increase, the government strengthened its control over information, rather than enforcing transparency during a public health crisis.
“The Egyptian government has made it clear that anyone who opposes the official narrative will be severely punished,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Amnesty, as quoted from Arab News.
Amnesty documented 37 cases of journalists who were detained in increasing government crackdown on freedom of the press, many of whom were accused of “spreading false news” or “misusing social media” under the 2015 counterterrorism law.
Following Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rise in 2013 as president, most Egyptian television programs and newspapers chose to take government positions and avoid criticism or disappear.
Many Egyptian private news outlets have been secretly acquired by companies affiliated with the country’s intelligence services.
However, pro-government votes have not been able to save 12 journalists working for state-owned media outlets, who have been jailed for expressing various personal views on social media, the report said.
One of them is Atef Hasballah, editor in chief of the AlkararPress website. When he opposed the count of the Ministry of Health’s corona virus cases on his Facebook page last month. He was immediately put in a police car and detained on the charge of “joining a terrorist organization.”
Journalists interviewed by Amnesty reported that state intervention was increasingly direct in their coverage.
Commemorating World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty urges the Egyptian government to stop censoring, harassing and intimidating journalists and calling for the release of those detained “solely for doing their work.” (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)