CAIRO: Journalist Ismail Alexandrani has been referred to the prosecution in Cairo Tuesday after being taken into custody Sunday at Hurghada airport, according to his wife Khadeega Gaafar.
Alexandrani is accompanied by renowned lawyer and 2012 presidential candidate Khaled Ali and other lawyers, but no news has emerged out of the prosecution office for five hours thus far, his wife wrote on Twitter.
He was coming to Egypt from Berlin for family reasons, journalist Ahmed Sakr, a friend of Alexandrani’s, wrote on Facebook Monday.
Gaafar claimed that Alexandrani’s investigation by the Homeland Security prior to referring him to the prosecution was based on a memo by the Egyptian embassy in Berlin that accuses the Sinai-specialized writer of “collaborating with international human rights organizations.”
He delivered several lectures in Berlin in October, according to Gaafar. Although he had been in Turkey, he took a flight to Berlin then to Hurghada. Egypt requires permits before travelling to Turkey and generally has sore relations with Ankara because of its stance opposing the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
Alexandrani’s articles and public social media accounts are largely critical of the government. His Facebook account, however, was closed after he was taken into custody. The hashtag #Free_Alexandrani has been tweeted more than 320 times since then.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemned the incident especially that no charges have been made known.
Alexandrani was a fellow at Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for several months earlier in 2015.
Another journalist, Hossam Bahgat, was summoned Nov. 8 by the military prosecution and questioned over “publishing false information that harms national interest.” The investigation was based on an October article he had written on 26 military officers who were tried for allegedly attempting to overthrow the regime.
Following his release, Bahgat wrote Nov. 10 that the prosecution reiterated that he does not enjoy the legal protection of journalists because he is not a member of the Journalists Syndicate. He urged the syndicate to “secure syndicate protection to all those who practice journalism with no discrimination.”