Egyptian journalist 'forcibly disappeared' after Zambia mystery plane reports
An Egyptian journalist was reportedly arrested and taken to an undisclosed location after the outlet he works for claimed to have unveiled the identities of Egyptians who were on board a plane carrying gold and money from Cairo to Zambia this week.
Plain-clothed security forces raided the east Cairo home of Karim Asaad in the early hours of Saturday, 'Matsada2sh', the fact-checking platform Asaad works for, said in a statement on Saturday evening.
Security forces physically assaulted Asaad and his wife and threatened their child before confiscating their money, valuables and electronic devices, according to the statement.
They also forced Asaad to delete posts by Matsada2sh about the Zambia-seized plane, before taking him to an undisclosed location.
'Matsda2sh' was founded in 2018 by the late journalist Mohamed Aboul Gheit, during his stay in the UK capital London. The platform is run by a group of Egyptian journalists with no political affiliation.
On Friday, it claimed to have unveiled the identities of the Egyptian nationals who had been on board the plane carrying more than 600 gold bars and about almost US$6 million in cash, including a senior Egyptian army officer.
Matsada2sh said they had been subject to Egyptian state harassment long before reporting on the identities of the Egyptians on board the cash-and-gold-laden plane.
"Before his arrest, the only questions they asked him were related to our breaking coverage of the Zambia-Egypt plane story. But this horrific escalation began before the plane story emerged, and over the past months we have faced a vicious smear campaign and incitement lawsuits against our platform and its staff," the statement read.
"We hold the security authorities responsible for the safety of our colleague… along with the rest of the team, and we demand that his lawyer be made aware of Karim’s whereabouts, the conditions of his detention, and the charge(s) against him."
Asaad's whereabouts remain unknown at the time of this article's publication. The New Arab tried to contact Asaad's wife for comment, but could not reach her.
Egypt is among the world's most prolific jailers of journalists, with dozens imprisoned or in pre-trial detention. In April of this year, Egypt listed 33 journalists on a new terrorism watch list.
Some 600 local and international news sites have been blocked in Egypt.