Egyptian journalist detained over 'false news' appeals for his freedom ahead of COP27
A detained Egyptian reporter is appealing to the pro-regime chief of the Press Syndicate to intervene to secure his release as the country gears up for hosting a global climate summit that has brought little international pressure over Egypt's abysmal human rights records. The appeal comes on the same day as detained Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah launched a full hunger strike.
Raouf Ebeid called on press syndicate head Diayaa Rashwan Monday to intervene and have him released at a time when the over 70-year-old entity had been falling short in keeping journalists’ interests at heart, according to the independent Darb news outlet.
Journalist Raouf Ebeid has been in pre-trial detention since July over bogus terror charges, the same set of accusations used against regime critics and outspoken journalists.
“I’m a prisoner who has no idea why he had been jailed….I have been working over the past 17 years for news outlets that are not anti-regime,” he wrote in a letter addressing Rashwan apparently leaked from prison.
Rashwan, also the head of the State Information Service, is known for being loyal to the regime of president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Ebeid had been detained on 7 July and subjected to enforced disappearance till 18 July when he appeared before the prosecution. He was charged with disseminating false news and being involved in a terrorist group. Since then, his pre-trial detention has been renewed every 15 days pending further investigations.
“The letter of the detained colleague does not require a comment. Every word is quite a painful shedding light on….the state of our jailed fellows. It’s a clear message that echoes how helpless we have all [syndicate leaders] become,” syndicate board member Mostafa Kamel was quoted by the independent Darb news outlet as saying.
Former head of the freedoms committee at the syndicate Khaled El-Balshy agrees with Kamel.
“For years, the syndicate has been falling short in carrying out its major role in defending journalists and taking care of their affairs,” Balshy, also Darb chief editor, told The New Arab.
“The syndicate as an entity is totally absent from the scene in the country,” he added.
The actual reason behind Ebeid's detention remains unclear.
Since taking power in 2014, 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."
Dozens of journalists have been 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.
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.
Meanwhile, jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah will now fully refrain from food as Egypt prepares to host the COP27 climate summit, his family said Monday. Alaa had been 200 days into a partial hunger strike
A major figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Abdel Fattah is currently serving a five-year sentence for "broadcasting false news", having already spent much of the past decade behind bars.
The activist has only been consuming "100 calories a day in the form of a spoon of honey and a drop of milk in tea", according to his sister Mona Seif.