Journalists Against Torture Observatory (JATO) issued its third quarterly report this week on violations committed against reporters and photojournalists in Egypt during July, August and September.
Out of a total 106 attacks on journalists that were reported in the report, JATO said it documented 100 cases through its fieldwork team. Of those, 59 violations took place in July, 18 in August, and 23 in September.
JATO stated it faced several obstacles while collecting information, mainly related to the security crackdown.
“[There was an] intentional concealment of information. Some journalists who were victimised were further threatened by security personnel or members of their affiliated media institutions. The political and security crackdown on civil society … restricted their access to information. Some provided testimonies that were undermined or exaggerated, according to the intellectual, personal, and political reasons of each victim,” JATO’s report said.
The report said there were five journalists serving prison terms. It demanded their unconditional release, as well as the release of 13 journalists detained because of their work.
According to JATO, the journalists face charges directly related to their profession such as publishing false news, incitement, libel, and defamation. They include recently detained Hamdy Al-Zaeem, Mohamed Hassan, and Osama El-Beshbeshy, who were arrested on September 26, while shooting a video in the vicinity of the Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo. They were accused of photographing without a licence.
Among the recently arrested was also Zoom News photojournalist Omar Adel, whose family claimed to have been denied information on his whereabouts during the first days of his detention in August.
As for older detainees, Mahmoud Abou Zeid Shawkan, who has been held in remand since August 2013, remains behind bars. Shawkan was arrested while covering the bloody dispersal of protesters in Rabaa Al-Adaweya. Despite his name becoming one of the most popular among international reports on press freedom in Egypt, there has been no change in Shawkan’s situation.
Journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani has been detained for over 10 months. On Saturday, his detention was renewed for another 45 days, amid a series of renewals since his arrest. He was accused by prosecution of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, spreading false information and rumours with the aim of terrorising people.
Abdullah Al-Fakharany and Samhy Mostafa from Rassd news network are among 13 journalists to have been handed life in prison, and one the death penalty, in the case publicly known as the “Rabaa operations room”.
Rassd reporter Mahmoud Abdel Naby is also detained after being arrested in July 2013 while covering clashes in Alexandria. The journalist was put in solitary confinement as part of his detention in Borg al-Arab prison.
Other journalists include Abdul Rahman Yaqot, a photojournalist working for Karmoz website. He was arrested in March 2015 in Alexandria and faces charges in two different cases. In September 2016, he was acquitted from protest charges. According to a JATO spokesperson, Yaqot is still detained over charges of setting fire to a police station.
JATO categorised the types of violations against journalists: banning journalists from covering certain events (36 cases); physical assaults (16 cases); journalists stopped and searched (10 cases), insults and threats (7 cases); and cases where official complaints were filed against them to prosecution authorities (7 cases). The list includes at least 12 violations, which vary from security and judicial prosecution to harassment and censorship.
Source: Daily News Egypt