Egypt to prosecute 17 for 'fake' Covid-19 news

Egypt to prosecute 17 for 'fake' Covid-19 news
2 min read
29 May, 2022
An Egyptian media watchdog has denounced 'a series of persecutions' targeting Egyptian journalists abroad.
Press freedoms are increasingly restricted in Egypt under the rule of president Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. [LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty]

Egypt prosecuted 17 journalists and media staff on charges of spreading fake news about the management of the Covid-19 pandemic by Egyptian authorities, the Arab Media Freedom Monitor - an Egyptian civil society organisation - said on Saturday.

"This follows a series of previous persecutions against Egyptian media workers abroad, including placing many of them on terrorism lists and travel bans, and failing to renew their passports," the monitor wrote in a statement.

"The accusations are not limited to traditional publishing crimes," the monitor said. "The prosecution added another criminal charge, which is the formation of what it described as the Muslim Brotherhood's media committee.”

Prosecuted journalists include journalists from Al-Sharq TV and Mekameleen TV including Hamza Zobaa, the head of the Association of Egyptian Media Workers Abroad.

Mekameleen, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, rose to prominence after publishing a series of high-profile leaks targeting leaders of the 2013 coup. It is widely regarded as a key platform for opponents of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. 

On April 30, Mekameleen closed its offices in Turkey amid thawing relations between Ankara and Cairo. An anonymous diplomatic source told The New Arab's sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that as part of talks to restart diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Egyptian authorities had asked for all opposition outlets in Turkey to be shut down.

Media freedom is increasingly restricted in Egypt since the 2013 military coup, which was followed by the election of military strongman Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as president. Around 500 local and international news outlets and websites blocked in Egypt, among them The New Arab and Human Rights Watch.

Egypt ranks 168th (out of 180) on Reporters Across Borders (RSF)'s 2022 World Press Freedom Index.