Egypt’s press syndicate to file legal complaint against interior minister

Ahram Online , Tuesday 26 Apr 2016

At least 43 journalists were arrested while covering protests on Monday, with seven still in jail

Press Syndicate
Journalists protest against the restriction of press freedom and demand the release of detained journalists in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo June 10, 2015 (Reuters)

Egypt’s press syndicate decided on Tuesday to file an urgent complaint to the prosecutor-general against interior minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar over "police violations" against journalists covering protests on Monday, a syndicate statement read.

Syndicate secretary Gamal Abdel-Raheem said the syndicate would also file a complaint against the head of Cairo's security directorate, with a reliance on testimonies of journalists who were “assaulted during their work, not allowed to enter the syndicate headquarters or who were inside the headquarters and were subjected to the assault by thugs.”

The syndicate said that dozens of its members were barred from entering the syndicate building, a planned focal point for the protests, even after showing their press IDs in a "precedent that has not taken place in years," as security forces had sealed off the surrounding streets over protests.

Forty-three journalists were arrested on Monday while covering protests against a recent decision by Egypt to acknowledge Saudi Arabia's sovereignty over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir. Most of the journalists were subsequently released.

Khaled El-Balshy, the head of the syndicate’s freedoms committee, told Ahram Online that seven journalists remain in detention on Tuesday.

An urgent meeting was held at the syndicate to discuss the matter and denounce supporters of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi whom the syndicate said attempted to storm its building in central Cairo on Monday.

The syndicate condemned "storming attempts by thugs under the eye of security forces who were present and surrounded the headquarters without interfering to secure the building to stop [those thugs from] storming the building and clashing with the journalists inside."

"The syndicate will not stand idly in the face of these shameful practices, whether from security forces… or thugs who gathered and moved freely under clear security sponsorship in front of the syndicate," the statement read, adding that the scene harkened back to “former security practices and [Mubarak’s now-dissolved] National Democratic Party’s use of outlaws to counter popular protests.”

A press conference will be held on Thursday at 12pm where testimonies of journalists who were detained by police during the protests will be heard.

Following the press conference, the syndicate's board and the journalists will head to the prosecutor's office to file complaints.

Freedom for the Brave, an Egyptian activist group tracking protester arrests, said that 239 people were arrested at demonstrations on Monday nationwide.

Dozens of journalists organised a stand on the staircases of the syndicate on Tuesday to protest the police violations against reporters during their coverage of Monday's protests.

The journalists chanted "write on the walls of the prison cell that the jailing of journalists is a shame."

They also held up banners of jailed colleagues Mahmoud Abu-Zeid Shawkan, Ahmed Sebei, and Ibrahim El-Darawy.

Syndicate board members El-Balshy and Gamal Abdel-Raheem participated in the stand.

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