Journalist Anas Fouda returned to Cairo Sunday evening, following his release from Emirati custody.
Fouda, who works with the Middle East Broadcasting Centre, was held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) without an official charge since early July.
Karem Mahmoud, secretary general of the press syndicate, said Fouda was held due to ongoing investigations in the UAE regarding the formation of a Muslim Brotherhood cell.
On 19 June, UAE prosecution referred 30 Egyptians and Emiratis to trial for establishing an illegal branch of the international Brotherhood organisation in the UAE.
In an interview with independent satellite channel ONTV on Sunday, Fouda said he underwent a four-hour investigation where he was asked about his membership in the Brotherhood.
“I’ve been introduced to the Muslim Brotherhood since 1988,” Fouda said, adding that his father was also a Brotherhood member. “But I haven’t been active within the Brotherhood’s administration since 1995.”
Fouda said his investigation mostly revolved around former President Mohamed Morsi and Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) deputy chairman Essam Al-Erian. Al-Erian had criticised the Emirati government during the Arab Affairs Committee meeting at the now-dissolved Shura Council in June, describing their behaviour towards Egyptian detainees as “disgraceful”.
Fouda said he was asked about a job offer he had received from FJP media advisor Mourad Ali.
Badr Abdel Atty, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the ministry began looking into Fouda’s arrest as soon as they were notified of it by the press syndicate. They delegated Egypt’s ambassador and general consul to the UAE to follow up on the case.
Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy addressed the issue with his Emirati counterpart, who is currently visiting Egypt, during their meeting, Abdel Atty said.
“The ministry’s main mission is to advocate the interests of all Egyptian expatriates regardless of their political affiliation,” Abdel Atty said.
Abdel Atty stated that 14 Egyptians detained in the UAE and charged with setting up a Brotherhood cell will face trial next week.
One Egyptian facing official charges regarding his membership in the Brotherhood is Ahmed Gaffar, who worked for Al-Ittihad newspaper. Gaffar has been detained in the UAE since December 2012. Mahmoud said the ministry cannot interfere to release Gaffar as they did with Fouda since the former is actually facing charges and was referred to trial.
“They cannot interfere with a court case,” Mahmoud said.
Abdel Atty said the ministry exercised pressure to see that official charges be pressed against the detainees and that their trials begin.
11 Egyptians were arrested in the UAE in November 2012, accused of leading a Brotherhood cell and conspiring to incite a Brotherhood-backed revolt against the Emirati government.
The detainees confirmed their affiliation with the Brotherhood, but denied their involvement in any political activity.