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Egypt police arrest Masr al-Arabia editor-in-chief over election fraud report amid media crackdown Open in fullscreen

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Egypt police arrest Masr al-Arabia editor-in-chief over election fraud report amid media crackdown

Egyptian authorities have cracked down on media during presidential elections last week [Masr al-Arabia]

Date of publication: 4 April, 2018

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Egyptian police have raided local news website Masr al-Arabia and detained its editor-in-chief after it published a report that exposed widespread electoral fraud during last week's presidential election.
Egyptian police have raided a local news website and detained its editor-in-chief after it published a report that exposed widespread electoral fraud during last week's presidential election.

Masr al-Arabia said in a statement that security forces raided its Cairo bureau on Tuesday afternoon and arrested Adel Sabri on charges of "lacking a licence from local authorities".

"Police officers in plain clothes claiming to be investigators but lacking identity cards to prove the agency they were from, raided the office at 3:30 pm on Tuesday," the statement said.

"They ordered the editors there to handover their computers and leave them open. They then held a long meeting with editor-in-chief Adel Sabri... and said they had come to collect a fine," it added. 

"At around 8:30 pm, the forces decided to arrest Sabri on charges of operating without a local licence," it said.

The outlet added that its office has been "sealed with red wax", preventing staff from working. Sabri is currently being questioned by prosecutors at a police station in Cairo.

The arrest comes two days after Masr al-Arabia had been ordered by the state media regulator to pay a $2,850 fine for translating an article by The New York Times, which highlighted widespread vote buying by authorities.

The story said that Egyptians were taking part in the vote for bribes as little as three US dollars.

The London-based Arab Media Freedom Monitor has condemned Sabri's arrest.

"We express deep concern over Egyptian authorities escalating its brutal attack on journalists and persecuting independent voices in Egypt," the watchdog said in an online statement.

Last week, international news agency Reuters withdrew a similar report on electoral fraud after authorities made an "implicit arrest threat".

Egyptian authorities have cracked down on media during presidential elections last week, which saw President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi win a second, four-year term in office in a virtual one-horse race.

Sisi has since 2014 moved to tame the media, silencing critical voices and blocking hundreds of independent news sites as part of a wider campaign against dissent.

Masr al-Arabia is one of over 500 websites blocked by Egypt in recent months.

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