Egyptian businessman to request investigation into Dutch journalist

Eduard Cousin
4 Min Read

Netherlands-based Egyptian businessman Sameh Sourial will file a memo with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate Dutch journalist Rena Netjes over spreading false information on Egypt, Youm7 reported last week.

Sourial accused Netjes of attacking Egypt and telling “all lies” in an interview on the Dutch television programme EenVandaag on 20 August. In the interview, Netjes said that Egypt does not respect human rights, citing torture and rape in its prisons.

Netjes said Saturday that the news initially upset her, but after contacting a Dutch official body, she was confident that the memo “would not be taken seriously” by the Dutch authorities.

The Dutch journalist said that she considers the Youm7 article, published on 24 August, as a form of intimidation to stop her reporting on Egypt. Netjes has worked as a correspondent in Egypt for several years, but was forced to leave the country last February due to accusations levelled against her in the Al Jazeera trial.

Although Netjes never worked for Al Jazeera, she was put on a list of Al Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste and dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen Mohamed Fahmy, who were accused during the trial of spreading false news and working with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Following negotiations between the Dutch and Egyptian authorities, Egypt gave Netjes permission to leave the country. In June, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.

Netjes said that Egypt realises the Al Jazeera trial against her and the other journalists was a “big mistake” and that this memo is an attempt to cover that up.

“They [the Egyptian authorities] want create a fairytale image of Egypt… as being on its way to democracy and security,” she said. “My interview is disrupting this image.”

In the Youm7 article, Sourial accused Rena of using 8-year-old video footage to back up her comments on torture and rape in Egyptian prisons. Netjes responded that she did not choose the footage herself, but it was included by the programme’s editing team.

Since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, there has been widespread criticism on the human rights situation in Egyptian prisons. Various detainees and ex-detainees reported being tortured, and several Egyptian and international human rights group, including the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, reported and condemned human rights abuses in prisons.

Sourial told Youm7 that he is consulting the Egyptian Ambassador in the Netherlands, Taher Ahmed Farahat, to draft a memo. The Dutch foreign ministry said in reaction to the programme EenVandaag that it had not yet received any memo of complaint about Netjes.

Netjes said that she had received reports from Egyptians in the Netherlands that the Egyptian Embassy in the Netherlands frequently requests the authorities to investigate Egyptian citizens who are critical of human rights abuses in Egypt.

The Netherlands said in June it was “very disappointed” over the verdict against Netjes. “The minimum requirements for a fair trial were not met,” the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said.

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Managing Editor of Daily News Egypt since January 2015. I moved to Egypt in June 2013, just before the 30 June protests, and have been working here in media ever since. Strong love/hate relationship with Cairo, which tends more to the love side when I'm smoking shisha in an ahwa. Aside work, I occasionally play in musicals.