Geneva Council For Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) firmly condemns the arbitrary detention of journalist Shaimaa Sami, the latest example of the government’s escalating crackdown on press freedoms, and calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release her.
According to the information obtained by GCRL, journalist Shaimaa Samy is being held in pre-trial detention in case no. 535 of 2020, after she appeared in Cairo’s state security prosecution on Saturday, May 30, on charges of “aiding a terrorist group,” “spreading and publishing false news,” and “using a social media account to disseminate false news”.
On May 20, state security officers arrested Shaimaa, a freelance journalist and former researcher for the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, at her home in Alexandria, on 20 May and had been held incommunicado for 10 days, and authorities didn’t disclose her whereabouts or any charges against her.
Geneva Council said that Shaimaa’s arrest comes within a week of another journalist, Lina Attalah, editor-in-chief of Mada Masr, being arrested by Egyptian police on May 17. Attalah was later released on bail after a massive online campaign. Another four journalists were arrested by authorities since 9 May, they are Moataz Wadnan, Mostafa al-Aasar, Haitham Hasan Mahgoub, and Sameh Hanin. These arrests come as part of wider government measures to suppress free speech and confirm that the arbitrary arrest campaign targeting journalists is still ongoing.
GCRL expressed deep concerns over the suppression of press freedom in Egypt as authorities are making journalism a crime and are disproportionately restricting the citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of expression. It is unacceptable to punish people for doing their work, journalists who do not follow the official line are either held in prison or lost their jobs.
Accordingly, Geneva Council For Rights and Liberties urges the Egyptian authorities to halt their intimidation of journalists and calls on them to immediately and unconditionally release Shaimaa Sami and all other journalists held solely for carrying out their work and practising their right to freedom of expression.