Outspoken Egyptian journalist Manal Agrama 'forcibly disappeared' ahead of COP27
An outspoken Egyptian journalist was forcibly disappeared on Tuesday evening, raising further concerns of a growing crackdown on journalists and activists by the regime ahead of the COP 27 climate summit opening on Sunday.
Retired journalist Manal Agrama, once in charge of the tourism section at a state-run radio and TV magazine, was reportedly taken by unidentified men, believed to belong to the state security police, to an unknown location after her mobile and tablet were confiscated.
“Agrama is known for voicing her critical views of the Maspero building leaders, housing the magazine, for failing to meet the financial duties towards her and her fellow journalists,” a colleague who worked with her told The New Arab, on condition of anonymity.
“Agrama, 61, who retired one year ago, has not yet received her end-of-service pay like many others, who have been fighting for their rights for years now,” the source said.
Agrama has been suffering from several medical conditions, needing at one point a spinal surgery that has been having an impact on her movement, besides being the only caretaker of her elderly parents.
She has recently been an outspoken critic of the government’s performance and politics, also voicing scepticism over Egypt’s ability to host COP27
“It seems that one of our colleagues informed on her as she expressed her criticism on a WhatsApp group, gathering her colleagues at the magazine,” her colleague said.
Agrama’s whereabouts remain unknown till the time of publishing.
International organisations have recently been alarmed towards Egypt’s restrictions on freedoms ahead of the UN Climate Summit, also known as COP 27, due on 6 November in Sharm El-Sheikh resort in Egypt’s South Sinai.
Even though several jailed activists and journalists have recently been released as part of the work of the Presidential Pardon Committee, “we find people released only to be replaced by others" in prison, former head of the freedoms committee at the press syndicate told The New Arab.
“It may look promising, but the situation remains the same, some get out and others get detained,” he added.
In a country described as the world's third worst jailer of journalists, dozens of journalists remain behind bars, whether serving time or pending trial. Around 600 local and international online media outlets and websites of international and local organisations have been blocked in Egypt, including The New Arab.
Since taking power in 2014, the regime of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has been ruling the country with an iron fist, and is frequently accused by local and international rights groups of overseeing the worst crackdown on human rights, freedom of expression, and media in the country's modern history.