Egyptian Filmmaker Hossam Al-Meneai is still being held in prison without bail, for the ninth day, amid new allegations of mental and physical torture at the hands of the police, according to a press statement released to English-language news site Egypt Independent.
Al-Meneai has been “regularly beaten and psychologically assaulted” in jail as prosecutors investigate charges of spreading false news to foreign countries and endangering Egypt’s security and public peace.
Al-Meneai, a 36 year-old native of the Sinai city Al-Arish, was arrested from his home on the night of 22 January along with his roommate, 26 year-old American translator Jeremy Hodge.
The pair was initially held for more than three days without access to attorneys or consular assistance, and authorities refused to disclose their location. According to Hodge, who was released on 26 January and has since returned to the United States, upon being arrested, each was handcuffed to a chair for 36 hours without access to food. Hodge said Al-Meneai was often beaten by police and was threatened during interrogation with a gun to his head.
“We are deeply concerned about our friend Hossam, an Egyptian citizen who does not have the benefit of diplomatic assistance,” said Nizar Manek, Al-Meneai and Hodge’s roommate who was not taken into custody, but witnessed the pair’s arrest.
“There is a disconnect between the legally vague charges and the public statements of Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy relating to arrest warrants and fair trial standards.”
Al-Meneai’s attorney Ahmed Al-Sandabasy said that he has been in contact with his client, providing him with food and clothing. He added that the beatings have now stopped.
Al-Meneai is scheduled to next appear in court on 8 February, according to Al-Sandabasy.
A documentary filmmaker, Al-Meneai’s latest project is a film on the Coptic Church for Russian television. Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabaa reported that prosecution found videos of the dispersals of the sit-ins at Rabaa and Al-Nahda Squares on Al-Meneai’s confiscated computer.
Al-Meneai’s detention comes as part of a larger government crackdown on voices of dissent. On Wednesday, the prosecution filed charges against 20 staff members from satellite news channel Al Jazeera that range from terrorism to reporting false news.
According to a December 2013 report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Egypt ranks among the top ten jailors of journalists in the world. A separate CPJ report from December listed Egypt as the third deadliest nation for journalists after Syria and Iraq.