Homeland Security interrogations with arrested Mada media organisation director and Press Syndicate member Hisham Gaafar will continue next week after four days of investigation, the defendant’s lawyer, Mohamed Al-Baqer, told Daily News Egypt. Gaafar is currently detained in Torah Prison until investigations are concluded.
Gaafar was arrested by security personnel who stormed into the headquarters of Mada organisation for media development last week. He was charged with belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group and international bribery.
On his Facebook page, Al-Baqer said: “This trial is against scientific research, freedom of thought and expression, civil society organisations, considering anything related to research and consultancy that is done away from the eyes of security men as threat to national security.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent observatory for press freedom, continuously calls on the Egyptian authorities to disclose the reasons for the arrest of journalists and their immediate release.
“With the holding of journalists in undisclosed locations, and not naming any charges against them, Egypt’s leaders are showing they will stop at nothing in their bid to silence the press,” said Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “We call on authorities to immediately release Mahmoud Mostafa Saad, Hisham Gaafar, and Hussam El-Sayed and stop trampling over the rule of law.”
Saad was reportedly detained at Cairo International Airport on Friday, while he was about to travel to London on a student visa. He worked for the privately owned newspaper and website Al-Nahar a few years ago and is still a registered member of the syndicate.
On Saturday, Egypt’s Press Syndicate sent a report to the prosecution, accusing the Homeland Security of withholding Gaafar’s detention location after his arrest, meaning his arrest can be described as an ‘enforced disappearance’, violating Article 54 of 2014 constitution, Article 36 of Egypt’s Penal Code and Article 69 of Press Syndicate Law.
The Journalists Against Torture observatory reported 51 cases of violation against journalists across Egypt in September, citing the Ministry of Interior as responsible for most of the violations.