BFF-49 Egypt arrests journalist after Al Jazeera appearance: watchdog

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EGYPT-PRESS-RIGHTS

Egypt arrests journalist after Al Jazeera appearance: watchdog

NEW YORK, June 16, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Egypt has arrested a veteran
journalist who has been openly critical of the government after he
appeared on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network, the Committee to
Protect Journalists said.

Mohamed Monir, 65, was arrested by plainclothes police officers
early on Monday, the New York-based advocacy group said.

“Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release
journalist Mohamed Monir and drop these baseless charges,” it said.

“Monir is already in failing health, and to detain him pending
trial during a pandemic is exceptionally cruel.”

The long-time journalist and media commentator has been remanded in
custody for 15 days on charges of joining a terrorist group, spreading
false news and misusing social media.

His detention was also condemned by Paris-based group Reporters
Without Borders, which called it “symptomatic of the difficulties”
facing Egypt’s journalists.

Monir’s arrest comes as Egypt steps up a crackdown on the press,
which it has been waging since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president
in 2014 a year after leading the military’s overthrow of his Islamist
predecessor Mohamed Morsi following mass protests.

The Egyptian government regards Al Jazeera as a mouthpiece for
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, now blacklisted as a terrorist
organisation.

Police had previously raided Monir’s apartment on Saturday. He was
not home at the time but he obtained footage of the raid from a camera
in his building which he shared online.

In a defiant video message he posted on Facebook, Monir vowed that
the authorities’ attempt to arrest him would not stop him speaking
out.

In a family statement posted on Monir’s Facebook page, his daughter
Sara said: “He was merely exercising his freedom of speech and his
words did not contain any incitement against the nation.”

In May, the CPJ documented the arrests of at least four Egyptian
journalists, including Sameh Haneen, a Coptic Christian who also faces
charges of joining a terrorist organisation.

The interior ministry later published video footage of an alleged
confession by Haneen, in which he said he had been paid thousands of
dollars for producing videos critical of the government for Al Jazeera
at the request of members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt and its Gulf allies — Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates — have boycotted Qatar since June 2017, accusing it of
supporting radical Islamists and being too close to Iran, charges it
denies.

Egypt ranks as the third worst jailer of journalists behind China
and Turkey, according to the CPJ.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2125hrs