Human rights organisations demand release of detained journalist Tawfik Ghanem

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On Saturday, 11 human rights organisations demanded the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Tawfik Ghanem, who finished 100 days in pretrial detention in May 2021. In a joint statement, the organisations held the Egyptian authorities responsible for Ghanem’s wellbeing, as Ghanem, 66, suffers benign prostate hyperplasia, and he was impending a surgery to relieve it before the arrest. He also has bone diseases along with diabetes, and requires medical care.

On 21 May, Egyptian security forces arrested Ghanem from his house in the Sixth of October City. After five days of enforced disappearance, he surfaced in the Supreme State Security Prosecution, which accused him of joining a terrorist organisation, without determining what the group was. Ghanem is an Egyptian Journalist who headed Media International, part of the Islam Online news website for 10 years and headed the regional office of Anadolu Agency in Cairo until his retirement in 2015.

According to the organisations’ statement, Ghanem was interrogated over his work in Anadolu Agency and his ideological attitudes. Ghanem responded during interrogations that he retired after the closure of Anadolu’s office in Cairo. In addition, he asserted his total rejection of violence. The organisations which signed the statement included the Egyptian Delegation for Human Rights, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, Al-Nadeem Centre, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, Committee for Justice, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, Freedom Initiative, the Regional Centre for Rights and Freedoms, Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms, and Cairo Institute for Human rights Studies.

The organisations called on authorities to release Ghanem quickly so that he can receive proper medical treatment, and demanded the Egyptian authorities stop targeting journalists. It is not the first time human rights organisations have demanded the release of Ghanem, as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, demanded his release in June.