Protest in Cairo demands release of Sinai-based journalist

Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Monday 9 Sep 2013

Al-Masry Al-Youm journalist Ahmed Abu-Deraa was detained by the military and is facing a military trial

Dozens of activists and journalists staged a solidarity protest Monday with journalist Ahmed Abu-Deraa, who had been arrested by the military last week and is facing charges of broadcasting false information about the military.

"I'm calling on [army chief] Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to intervene immediately for the release of Abu-Deraa," Sinai-based journalist Abdel-Qader Mubarak told Aswat Masriya on Monday.

"Abu-Deraa has always contributed to uncovering the truth in Sinai."

Abu-Deraa is an award-winning journalist who has reported for leading private daily Al-Masry Al-Youm as well as private satellite channel OnTV.

He was referred to military prosecution on Thursday where he was given 15 days in detention, pending investigation on charges of broadcasting false information about the military, communicating with "terrorist groups" in Sinai, filming military property and provoking the armed forces.

"Abu-Deraa was always keen on providing documented coverage with photos and videos," head of the investigative department at Al-Masry Al-Youm, Ahmed Ragab, told Aswat Masriya.

The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate issued a statement shortly after the detention of Abu-Deraa calling on the military to release information concerning the reasons behind the arrest, to facilitate the job of journalists. The syndicate also called for journalists to be exempted from military trials.  

"We are witnessing a serious crackdown on the revolution and its activists and on freedoms in general," labour lawyer and member of the Revolutionary Socialists group Haytham Mohamadein, who was himself detained by the army for a brief period last week, told Ahram Online during the protest.

Mohamadein was released on Saturday after having been detained by the army on Thursday and accused of founding a "secret organisation."

"I am here today to stand in the face of such onslaught," Mohamadein added.

"The news of the arrest of the reporter of Al-Masry Al-Youm, who has reported the truth as it unfolded on the ground and showed that cities were being destroyed and so on, to me, is a dangerous occurrence," said Laila Soueif, a renowned activist and professor at Cairo University.

"I hope for an end, not only to Abu-Deraa's detention, but to the general attitude of unconditional discrimination which will lead to disastrous consequences," added Soueif.

Abu-Deraa won the 2013 Samir Kassir Journalism Award for a report he had conducted on human trafficking occurring in Sinai.

"Arresting Abu-Deraa and other journalists proves that Mubarak, the military institution, Morsi, El-Sisi and Mansour are against freedom of speech and proves that the differences between those regimes are only symbolic," Gamal Eid, a rights lawyer and director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information told Ahram Online. 

"This is not a regime that protects journalists, and nor is it a system that protects the revolution," added Eid.

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