UPDATED: Egypt’s journalists to protest on World Press Freedom Day after police storm syndicate

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 May 2016

At least 40 police personnel stormed the press syndicate on Sunday to arrest two journalists

People protest outside Egypt's Journalists Syndicate in Cairo, Monday, May 2, 2016 (AP)

Egyptian journalists called for protests on the stairs of downtown Cairo’s Journalists Syndicate on Tuesday on World Press Freedom Day to condemn the police’s unconstitutional storming of the building on Sunday and arrest of two journalists.

The flags on top of the syndicate’s building will be lowered and replaced by black flags to mourn the conditions that Egyptian journalists are facing, the head of the syndicate’s Freedom Committee Khaled El-Balshy told Ahram Online.

The two journalists arrested on Sunday, Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka, were questioned by the prosecution on Monday and given 15 days detention pending investigations on accusations of spreading false news, inciting the public, and plotting to overthrow the regime.

A number of journalists have already started camping out at the press syndicate to protest the storming of the syndicate, a move unprecedented during the 75 years since its foundation.

The striking journalists are also calling for more people to join them. They will hold a press conference where they will possibly denounce the interior ministry’s action and announce their next steps.

The syndicate has already called for an urgent general assembly on Wednesday to discuss the storming of the syndicate and to possibly escalate their actions, as well as to deliberate on the recent arrest of journalists.

During protests on 25 April to condemn the country’s acknowledgement that two Red Sea islands, previously under Egyptian sovereignty, belong to Saudi Arabia, over 40 journalists were detained. Seven remain in custody.

In a statement to the press on Monday night, the syndicate said that the interior ministry’s claim that it coordinated with the syndicate before arresting the journalists is only a “rumour and is completely false.”

They added that the ministry should “face the truth and confess to the crime it has committed.” 

According to Egyptian constitution, in order for police to enter the syndicate, they have to coordinate with its board and only enter in the presence of representative from the prosecution and head of the syndicate's board.

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