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Egyptian foreign ministry denounces Ban Ki Moon’s criticism of journalist Bahgat detention

Ahram Online , Tuesday 10 Nov 2015
Hossam Bahgat
Hossam Bahgat (Photo: Courtesy of Hossam Bahgat Twitter account)

Egypt’s foreign ministry has condemned remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in which he expressed concerns over the detention of activist journalist Hossam Bahgat.

Military prosecutors on Monday ordered the detention of Bahgat, an investigative journalist and one of Egypt's best-known rights advocates, on charges of publishing ‘false and inaccurate information that harms national security.’

The Secretary General had said Bahgat's detention is "the latest in a series of detentions of human rights defenders and others that are profoundly worrying," while calling for safeguarding freedom of speech and association in Egypt.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said it denounces the UN secretary general’s comments, claiming they merely address individual cases.

The comments "jumped to conclusions and assumptions relating to the exercise of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed for all Egyptians by the constitution," a statement by the ministry spokesman read.

The secretary should have rather "been cautious and paid attention to public issues related to collective and systematic violations against nations still deprived of their basic rights," the statement added.

Bahgat was detained Sunday after being summoned to an intelligence building in Cairo.

Two of the lawyers attending the questioning with Bahgat said Monday that military prosecutors did not report the location of Bahgat’s detention.

The investigative journalist became a contributor for Mada Masr in 2014, writing prominent stories like The Arab Sharkas Cell: The quasi-covert trial of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, The Mubarak Mansions, and Who Let the Jihadis Out?

Mada Masr was founded in 2013 after Egypt Independent folded. The site, available in Arabic and English, provides a platform for writers to pursue investigative journalism and opinion pieces along with regular news coverage. 

Bahgat founded the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in 2002 and was honoured with a Human Rights Watch Alison Des Forges Award in 2011.

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