CAIRO: Investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat will be detained for four days pending investigations over charges of publishing false information that harms national interest, according to Mada Masr Twitter account.
His detention was ordered Monday by the military prosecution, where he was being held overnight. Bahgat was summoned Sunday by a Military Intelligence order that did not disclose any reasons.
Bahgat has contributed with in-depth investigative pieces for Mada Masr since 2014. He is also the founder of prominent human rights organization Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR.)
The news about his arrest went viral on social media, where activists and media practitioners have largely denounced the move, launching a hashtag demanding his freedom; it translates to “In Solidarity with Hossam Bahgat.”
Bahgat has written a series of articles that tackled military issues and trials. His latest report titled “A coup busted?” explored the trial of 26 officers who schemed for overthrowing the current regime.
In February 2014, Bahgat wrote a report titled “Who let the Jihadis out?, where he concluded that the majority of so-called jihadists released after the January 25 Revolution were pardoned by the Supreme Council for Armed Forces (SCAF,) and not by former President Mohamed Morsi as is believed.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement Sunday calling on Egyptian authorities to release Bahgat, describing his detention as “a clear attempt to stifle reporting.”
CPJ referred to series of arrests of journalists in Egypt in a way to curb the work of independent media in the country.
Amnesty has also condemned the detention, calling it “another blow for freedom of expression,” in a Sunday statement.
“The arrest of Hossam Bahgat today is yet another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression in Egypt. He is being detained and questioned by the military prosecutor for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and must be immediately and unconditionally released. Any charges brought against him must be dropped,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported at least 18 journalists are being held in jails in Egypt, while member of the Press Syndicate’s administration council Khaled el-Balshy told The Cairo Post in August that at least 35 journalists are detained.