Egypt journalist arrested after report on Arab League 'oversized salaries' is cited by Saudi minister

Egypt journalist arrested after report on Arab League 'oversized salaries' is cited by Saudi minister
2 min read
16 March, 2021
Mustafa Anbar, a reporter for the daily Youm7, was allegedly arrested and interrogated by the security service over a report he published.
Ahmed Al-Kattan criticised the Arab League overs the "oversized salary" of its employees [Getty]
A journalist working for Egyptian state media has been sacked and arrested after he was cited by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of African Affairs Ahmed Al-Kattan in criticism of the "spineless" Arab League and the "oversized salaries" of its employees, including its secretary general. 

Mustafa Anbar, a reporter on the Arab League affairs for the daily Youm7, was allegedly picked up by police at his home and interrogated by Egyptian security services after a report he published was quoted by Kattan in the Rotana Khalijiah televised interview, Arabi21 reported on Tuesday. 

The newspaper's Editor-in-Chief Khaled Salah was also summoned by authorities and cautioned against publishing any reports on Saudi Arabia or other Gulf states unless formally approved by security services, the Arabi21 report said, citing sources.

Rights activists have slammed Egypt over its "relentless attacks on journalists and other media workers".

In the past few years, at least five media outlets have been raided or shut down and hundreds of websites, including local or international news sites, have been blocked.

At least 37 journalists are currently behind bars for exercising their right to freedom of expression, 20 of them directly in connection with their journalistic work, according to Amnesty International.

Arab League under Saudi criticism

The leaked memo published by Youm7 allegedly revealed that Saudi Arabia submitted a list of demands to the Arab League, branded as "points for reform".

In the televised interview, Kattan cited Anbar's report, confirming that the kingdom submitted a list of demands to the Arab League, which he slammed as "spineless", alleging that the salaries of its employees were "over-sized".

His comments came as Arab foreign ministers agreed to renew the League's secretary general five-year term earlier this month, according to Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency.  

Ahmed Aboul Gheit was nominated for a second term in office, despite a sharp rebuke from Saudi Arabia which questioned his leadership and condemned his performance.

This criticism was viewed as aimed at Egypt, where the organisation is based and which has held control of the general secretary position.

Saudi Arabia has said it is considering reducing its contributions to the Arab League unless "certain reforms" are implemented including a reduction to the secretary general's salary.

Aboul Gheit, a career diplomat who served as foreign minister for Egypt from 2004 to 2011, began his term as secretary-general in 2016 and was set to end his current term in June.

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