MRA Joins 24 Global Free Expression Groups to Call for Release of Two Egyptian Journalists Detained Since June 2019 Without Trial

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
President of Egypt

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has joined  24 other human rights and freedom of expression organisations from around the world to call on Egyptian authorities to immediately release two Egyptian journalists: HishamFouad and HossamMoanis, who have detained without trial since June 25, 2019. Condemning the detention, they also called on the country to stop all attacks on independent media outlets and journalists in the country.

The organisationssaid they shared the fears of the families and friends of Hisham and Hossam that Egyptian authorities might resort to charging them in a new case, opening the door to a fresh pretrial detention period of two years pointing out that: “This cruel and illegal practice has been used excessively in recent years to further punish people who share or express dissenting opinions.”

Fouad, 52, a labor activist and journalist with the Russian “Sputnik” news agency in Cairo, and Moanis, 38, a journalist for “Al Karama” newspaper and a political activist, were arrested by Egyptian police in their homes at dawn on June 25, 2019 accused of being part of a political group known as the Coalition of Hope.They are being detained in harsh and squalid conditions in the infamous Tora prison.

Egyptian and international human rights organizations sayHisham,Hossamand others face baseless accusations, a common practice of the President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi regime, which has regularly targets human rights defenders, opponents, and critical journalists of various media organisations. Chief among these accusations are participating in a terrorist group and spreading false news on social media with the aim of inciting sedition and overthrowing the regime.

Their detention has been renewed at least 25 times without providing any serious evidence of these accusations or to even refer the accused to trial.

On June 7, the special court considering the renewal ruled to continue their detention and that of others in the Coalition of Hope case for another 45 days, exceeding the maximum period of pretrial detention provision of Article 143 of the Egyptian Criminal Code, which sets it at two years.

The two journalists have also suffered complications from other diseases, exacerbated by the lack of medical care and treatment, exercise, exposure to the sun and the outside air. They were denied the right to communicate with their families and lawyers. Hisham’s request to pursue higher studies in English translation during his imprisonment was also denied.

International human rights groups have expressed continuing concern about deteriorating conditions of the press and journalists in Egypt during the last eight years. Authorities have tightly controlled the media, jailed scores of journalists without trial, blocked hundreds of local and international news and human rights sites, and passed media legislation that violates international standards for freedom of expression.

Other organisations which, in addition to MRA, called for the release of Hisham and Hossam are Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State, Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC), Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), ARTICLE 19, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), Bytes for All (B4A), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Global Voices Advox, Independent Journalism Center (IJC), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Press Centre (IPC), International Press Institute (IPI), and Maharat Foundation.

The rest are Mediacentar Sarajevo, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA),          Media Watch, Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), Pakistan Press Foundation, PEN Norway, South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), and World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).