Egypt: government must stop intimidating journalists ahead of elections
26 February 2018
The International Federation of Journalists has called for the immediate release of an Egyptian journalist who was arrested on 16 February after conducting an interview with an opposition figure.
Moataz Wadnan, a Huffington Post Arabi reporter, published an interview on 11 February with Hesham Geneina, a campaign aide to ex-general and presidential candidate Sami Anan, who claimed that Anan possessed dangerous documents on the Egyptian post-2011 revolution and the involvement of military leaders in the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Geneina was detained for revealing to Wadnan that Anan possesses “dangerous” secret documents. Wadnan was arrested on Friday 16 February with three of his relatives. His relatives were released on 17 February, but his lawyer has not been able to locate him since then.
The Armed Forces spokesperson Tamer al-Rifai issued statement saying: “We will use all constitutional and legal rights to protect national security and maintain the military’s honour.”
Wadnan was charged on Wednesday 21 February with spreading false news and membership of a terrorist organisation. He was remanded in detention for 15 days.
Journalists Syndicate secretary general Hatem Zakaria told the media that security agencies had informed him that they would release Moataz Wadnan once the “circumstances surrounding his interview with Geneina” became clear.
Philippe Leruth, IFJ president, said:
“We are concerned by the intensive crackdown on the press ahead of the presidential elections next month, and Moataz’s fate is another illustration of acts of intimidation against our colleagues who are simply doing their job and reporting the truth. We ask for his immediate release and the release of all other journalists who are jailed in Egypt”.
The IFJ said there are currently more than 20 journalists behind Egyptian bars.