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Mada Masr editor arrested outside Cairo prison

Lina Attallah was arrested outside Cairo's Tora prison (Getty)

Date of publication: 17 May, 2020

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Egyptian security services on Sunday arrested the editor-in-chief of prominent independent news outlet Mada Masr, its lawyer said, the latest in a crackdown against journalists.

Egyptian security services on Sunday arrested the editor-in-chief of prominent independent news outlet Mada Masr, its lawyer said, the latest in a crackdown against journalists.

Lina Attallah was arrested outside Cairo's Tora prison as she was interviewing rights activist Laila Soueif, mother of jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah who recently began a hunger strike.

"The prison security guards asked Attallah to show her identification card and later called her in for an investigation that lasted three hours," lawyer Hassan al-Azhari told AFP.

"We knew afterwards that she was taken to a police station in Maadi district and that she will appear before the prosecution tomorrow (Monday) morning," he said.

Read more: Comment: As coronavirus spreads in Egypt, Sisi puts the truth on lockdown

Azhari added that the reason behind the arrest and the charges against Attallah remained unclear.

Mada Masr is an online outlet that investigates corruption and security issues in both Arabic and English.

Its website has been blocked in Egypt in recent years along with hundreds of others including many critical of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government.

VPNs and other mirror sites are often used to bypass the block.

In November, security forces raided Mada Masr's offices in Cairo and questioned journalists there. Attallah and others were briefly detained.

On Sunday, the Committee to Protect Journalists called for Attallah's release.

"We hold Egyptian authorities directly responsible for Lina Attalah’s freedom and Alaa Abdelfattah’s health," said its Middle East and North Africa coordinator, Sherif Mansour.

The New York-based organisation said Thursday that Egyptian authorities arrested journalist Haitham Mahgoub who works for a local privately-owned newspaper.

Citing his lawyer, it said Mahgoub faced charges of spreading false news and joining and funding a terrorist group.

In March, British newspaper The Guardian said its reporter in Egypt was forced to leave after her credentials were revoked over a report on coronavirus infections in the country.

Egypt has increasingly targeted journalists in an ongoing crackdown against dissidents since the 2013 military ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

The clampdown has swept up thousands of the late Morsi's Islamist supporters as well as secular activists, lawyers and academics.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says at least 29 journalists are jailed in Egypt, which ranks 166th out of 180 countries in its 2020 world press freedom index.


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