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Egypt police release journalist Nora Younis on bail following office raid

Younis pictured outside Maddi police station after her release [Twitter]

Date of publication: 26 June, 2020

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Al-Manassa's editor-in-chief was released on 10,000 EGP bail in the early hours of Friday, following her arrest during a raid on the outlet's offices.
Egyptian news outlet Al-Manassa confirmed on Friday morning that its editor-in-chief, Nora Younis, had been released on bail from Maadi police department, 26 hours after her arrest during a raid on its offices.

The site's executive editor, Sayed Torki, tweeted a picture of himself with Younis following her release in the early hours of the morning.

The outlet said that Younis had been released on bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (618 USD), after an hour and a half of interrogation.

The Public Prosecution charged Younis in a case numbered 9455/2020 with "setting up an account on an IT network with the aim of committing and facilitating a crime" and "possession of a programme developed without permission from the National Communications Regulatory Authority".

The prosecution did not specify what networks or programmes the charges related to.

Plain-clothed Egyptian security forces raided Al-Manassa's offices in Cairo on Wednesday, during which they searched the computers and seized a laptop for examination.

Younis was arrested on charges managing a news website without an operating license, and taken in a van to a police station in Cairo’s Maadi district.

The authorities initially denied that Younis had been taken to the police station, sparking fears she had been forcibly disappeared.

Human rights groups rushed to condemn Younis' arrest and demand her release. Amnesty International in a tweet urged authorities to "protect her from any torture or other ill-treatment" while in detention.

The incident marks the latest government action cracking down on independent news media.

Media are required to have permission to work in Egypt, but withholding accreditation is often used as a pretext to silence reporting the state sees as critical. The outlet has said in previous statements that it applied for a license in October 2018 but has not received a response.

Younis is a rights activist, journalist and blogger. She formerly worked as a managing editor at Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt's most popular daily.

Younis founded Al-Manassa in 2015, but authorities blocked the website in 2017, one of hundreds of sites banned or blocked in recent years. The outfit continued to publish through mirror sites, however.

In recent years, Egypt has imprisoned dozens of reporters and occasionally expelled some foreign journalists. It remains among the world’s worst jailers of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Egypt's government, under general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has overseen an unprecedented political crackdown, silencing critics and jailing thousands.

Sisi, as defense minister, led the military’s removal of the country’s first democratically elected president in 2013 after his one-year rule proved divisive, sparking massive nationwide protests.

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