While Egyptians await the beginning of political reform and media openness
promised by journalists and media affiliated with the regime of General Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi, the Egyptian security forces arrested the Associated Press correspondent in
Cairo, as well as the activist and journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, and assaulted Gamal
Eid, Director of the Arab Network for Human Rights.
Security forces in civilian clothes with weapons and radios kidnapped Esraa Abdel
Fattah from her car. Mohammed Salah, one of her friends, wrote about the details of
her arrest as he was accompanying her at the time of her abduction.
Salah said that two cars with plainclothes security men intercepted Esraa’s car, put
her in one of their cars and him in another, before leaving him on a highway an hour
later, after beating him up. Salah said that from that moment he did not know where
Later, Esraa Abdel Fattah appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution
and announced that she had begun a hunger strike to protest her torture after her
arrest, according to lawyer Khaled Ali.
The prosecution charged Esraa with charges of “participating in a terrorist group in
achieving its purposes, broadcasting, publishing and broadcasting false news and
statements, and misusing the means of communication,” charges which she denied
during the investigation.
The prosecution ordered Esraa’s imprisonment for 15 days pending investigations,
and that she return next Wednesday to complete the investigation.
Esraa’s lawyer, Khaled Ali, said she announced that she was tortured as soon as he
and the other lawyers entered the interrogation room, and explained that she is on a
hunger strike, and showed the effects of beating on her arms in the form of severe red
marks and bloody bruising-like clusters.
Lawyers requested that the statements of the journalist and political activist be
considered a communication against the police force responsible for her arrest and
detention, and requested that they be presented to forensics, requests which the
prosecution agreed to.
Esraa recounted how she was arrested, saying that two cars with armed men in
civilian clothes intercepted her car on Saturday night and forced her to stop. She said
officers were shouting, “police, police.”
As soon as Esraa stopped, they kidnapped her from her car, blindfolded her,
handcuffed her, and moved her to an unknown location, where she was subjected to
hours of severe beating on her back, arms and face, in order to press her to give them
access to her mobile phone.
Esraa asserted that she was tortured, beaten violently, threatened with electrocution
in her neck, and strangled more than once by her jumper to the point that she lost
After the interrogation was over, she was left in a state of complete fatigue and with
her hands tied to an iron column inside a cell.
Before she was brought before the prosecution, she was threatened with further
torture if she disclosed what had happened to her during her detention.
In conjunction with the arrest of Esraa, a campaign began to defame her, where
several accounts on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook posted a phone call they said
took place between Esraa Abdel Fattah with another activist “residing outside the
country.” In these recordings, she talked about her concern for the military control of
political life in Egypt expressing that it is more dangerous than the possibility of the
Brotherhood returning to the power.
The state-owned daily Gomhuria (Republic) published, on its third page, a big report
alluding to Esraa’s personal life in an attempt to tarnish her image.
Hours after Esraa’s arrest, the family of Abdullah al-Said, one of the founders of the
Bread and Freedom Party said he was kidnapped by police in civilian clothes at dawn
yesterday, from his home in the Kerdasa area in Giza, according to Elham al-Aidaros,
the party’s founding agent.
Al-Aidaros said that individuals in civilian clothes, along with two police cars, came
to al-Said’s house at dawn yesterday, and broke the furniture in his apartment, and
then took him to an unknown place, according to Mada Masr.
It was not much different for the Associated Press correspondent in Cairo Mustafa al-
Khatib, whereas security forces stormed his home late Saturday evening.
Al-Khatib was surprised at night when he heard loud knocking at the door of his
apartment. When he opened the door, dozens of armed men broke in, scaring his four
Security forces confiscated al-Khatib’s personal computer, confiscated papers and
books in his apartment, and took his mobile phone and that of his wife and daughter.
Security services have not informed him or his wife of any charges against him, nor
has he been informed of any court order to arrest him. Since that time, his
whereabouts are not yet known. Human rights activists have confirmed that al-
Khatib has been forcibly disappeared.
When he was taken by security forces from his home, he told his wife (also a
journalist) to tell the Journalists Syndicate. The officer in charge of the arrest
ridiculed him: “Oh, my God, you scared me.”
Human rights sources told Egypt Watch that al-Khatib’s arrest was a punishment for
preparing a report on the departure of eight students from the University of
Edinburgh from Egypt and that they ended their exchange period without completing
Al-Khatib wrote the report for Associated Press, and revealed that the students were
on a university exchange with the American University in Cairo, but they left Cairo
after two British students were arrested by the Egyptian security services.
The Egyptian authorities often arrest journalists who prepare reports critical of
Egypt’s human rights situation, and say they publish false news that harms the
Egypt is witnessing a wave of arrests of activists and journalists in light of the limited
protests that erupted on September 20. Roughly six other journalists were arrested,
five human rights lawyers, and more than 2,400 opponents.
The latest arrests come a few hours after the broadcaster close to the al-Sisi regime
Amr Adib demanded the country’s political leadership release prisoners of conscience
and imprisoned political opponents.
Amr Adib singled out former President of the Constitution Party Khaled Daoud,
Hazem Ghoneim, brother of political activist Wael Ghoneim, professor of political
science at Cairo University Hassan Nafaa, activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, lawyer
Mahienour el-Masry, and political activists Shadi al-Ghazali Harb and Hazem Abdel
Adib described them as icons for some, while the presenter sees them as “not Muslim
Brothers, not instigators, not foreign financiers.”
Many journalists close to the regime have heralded political reforms and the opening
up of the media, but actually, the arrests are evidence that all of the alleged promises
of reform were just a mirage, observers have said.