Egypt court upholds detention of journalists, rights lawyer in island protest case

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 May 2016

Egyptian journalists El-Sakka and Badr
Journalist Mahmoud El-Sakka (L) and Journalist Amr Badr (R) (Photo: Al-Ahram)

A Cairo appeals court rejected on Wednesday an appeal for the release on bail of five activists and a prominent rights lawyer arrested earlier this month on various charges connected with their opposition to the recent Egyptian-Saudi island deal, a judicial source said.

The court upheld a 15-day extended detention for journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka, who were arrested during a raid on the country's press syndicate.

Badr and El-Sakka were among many ordered arrested ahead of the 25 April protests against  Egypt's decision last month to acknowledge Saudi sovereignty over two Red Sea islands.

The defendants are facing an investigation by prosecutors over accusations of "inciting to protest" and "attempting to destabilise the country and planning a coup."

Dozens of protesters were rounded up during demonstrations against the agreement.

Badr and El-Sakka were initially given 15 days in detention pending investigation when they were first arrested in early May, with the order later extended.

The raid by security forces on the press syndicate, which union officials said was a first in the syndicate's 75-year history, sparked outrage among media and critics and promoted calls for the sacking of the interior minister.

The court also rejected on Wednesday an appeal against the detention pending investigation of prominent rights lawyer Malek Adly, who had raised a lawsuit against the Egyptian-Saudi agreement.

Adly, who was arrested on 6 May, faces similar allegations but is being investigated in a separate case, the source added.

The appeals in both cases were submitted by the same defence team, which consists of a number of rights lawyers.

A total of 29 journalists are currently behind bars in Egypt, with some in custody for almost three years and facing charges of "publishing false news" or aiming to "topple the state," according to press union chief Yehia Kalash.

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