An appeal presented on behalf of a detained Yemeni journalist was rejected by the Nasr City Misdemeanour Court on Thursday, upholding the prosecution’s decision to detain the Yemeni national for 15 days.
The journalist is being investigated for “using a camera” to “spread false news and rumours that are likely to disturb public peace.”
The journalist, Firas Shamshan, was arrested while filming at the Cairo Book Fair, which ran from 22 January to 6 February. Shamshan runs a blog, Fantime, on arts and culture. The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) has been following up on Shamshan’s case and was present during investigations.
Nada Kabbary, head of Media Communication at AFTE, said Shamshan was arrested early last week while speaking to some of the book fair visitors and recording an interview with them. One shopper told Shamshan that “there is more to Egypt than Al-Sisi”, referring to Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Another visitor overheard the conversation and called security, which arrested Shamshan and escorted him to Nasr City Police Station where he was investigated and is believed to be held.
Kabbary said a lawyer from the Yemeni Embassy was also present during investigations. The embassy was unavailable for comment.
Kabbary said that at this point, “we are waiting for him to be presented to prosecutors to see if his detention will be renewed or if he will be released.”
Egypt has become an increasingly hostile environment for journalists, with the coverage of high-profile events currently involving greater risk. Thirty-six violations against journalists were recorded on 25 January, the third anniversary of the 2011 revolution, by an operation room set up by AFTE and a group titled Journalists Against Torture. At least five photojournalists were arrested on that day and two more suffering injuries were hospitalised.
During the coverage of the constitutional referendum on 14 and 15 January, at least 11 incidents of attacks on journalists were reported.
Similar charges of spreading false information have been levelled against 20 employees working for the Qatari news network Al Jazeera. They were accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation, calling for disruption of the law and preventing state institutions from conducting their affairs, broadcasting false news to support a terrorist group and harming the national interest of the country on 29 January.