A young Egyptian woman alleged to have been "forcibly disappeared" in Egypt, according to an extensive BBC news story, was interviewed by a prominent TV host on Monday evening, refuting claims that she had been “kidnapped by authorities” and tortured.
In an interview
with TV host Amr Adib on ON satellite channel, 25-year-old Zubeida Ibrahim Younis sat down with her husband Sayed Abdel Azim to deny the 5,000-word BBC article and video report, titled The Shadow Over Egypt, which was published on Friday.
The report, written by Orla Guerin, contains interviews with families of alleged victims of torture and enforced disappearance by security services, and has sparked controversy since its publishing.
Zubeida refuted her mother's testimony to the BBC, saying that she does not speak with her "due to [personal] circumstances".
"I got married, and I'm staying with my husband in Giza's Faisal, and I don't speak with her," she told Adib, stating that she did not know of the international hype that has surrounded her story.
Zubeida confirmed her mother's statement that they had both been detained for a couple of months, but she debunked any reports of torture or electrocution by security personnel.
"I only got detained once, for four months at Segn El-Qanater [a female prison] with my mom, from Abdel Moneim Riyadh Square, where we were participating at a protest ... I think with the Muslim Brotherhood," she said, affirming that they were supporters of the now-banned group.
Zubeida said she does not have any explanation for her mom's statements. Her husband, a football coach, said he was a sympathizer and a member of the MB's Freedom and Justice Party, highlighting that her mom was once a guest on a Brotherhood channel and claimed her daughter had been kidnapped and tortured.
Zubeida added that she and her mother also participated in the Islamists' Nahda sit-in camp in 2014, but for "only ten days at the beginning".
Both the husband and wife denied any "pressure" by security services to refute claims of mistreatment in detention, despite being pressed on the matter by Adib, who showed viewers a copy of the March 2017 marriage certificate between Zubeida and her husband.
"Don't be upset, and forgive me," she said, crying on screen. "Nothing is wrong, and I'm fine," She added, asking her mother to visit if she wants. She also defended her mom, putting her actions down to the fact that she didn't know her whereabouts.
Shortly after the airing of the episode, Egypt's official State Information Service (SIS) said the appearance of Zubeida on air "disproves the authenticity of the BBC report on her enforced disappearance and torture," nearly two days after it slammed the report.
The SIS said it demands that the BBC "issue an immediate apology" over the BBC report for the "gross professional error regarding citizen Zubeida, to the extent of absolute falsification and fabrication".
On Tuesday, the head of the SIS, Diaa Rashwan, called on Egyptian officials to boycott the BBC and abstain from media interviews with its journalists and producers until the media organization has officially apologized and published the SIS's response to its report.
"The SIS asserts that such a boycott does not involve or undercut the BBC's right to obtain information and those statements necessary to carry out its duties," the statement said.
Rashwan ordered the press centre for foreign journalists to take the necessary measures with the BBC's Cairo bureau to follow up on the implementation of its decision within the rules governing the work of foreign journalists in Egypt.