By Toqa Ezzidin
Renowned journalist and human rights activist Hossam Bahgat issued a statement on Tuesday following his release, describing the details of what occurred during his three-day detention period and military interrogation.
According to Bahgat, he headed to the military intelligence building on Sunday after being summoned three days earlier.
“I spent around three hours in the building before I was taken to a car from the back door under armed security, after several rejected demands to call my family, lawyer or my colleagues,” Hossam said.
Bahgat added that after around five hours, he was permitted to call a friend to inform him of his location and request a lawyer.
In the presence of a number of lawyers and colleagues, the interrogation began. “I was interrogated by the military prosecution as a ‘defendant’,” he said.
Bahgat said he was exclusively questioned on an article he published last month on Mada Masr, which described the conviction of a number of military officers on charges of allying with Muslim Brotherhood members and plotting a coup against President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
According to Bahgat, he was accused of “spreading false news that would harm national interest”.
After the interrogation concluded, Bahgat was taken to an empty area where he was told to take off his shirt and trousers to be superficially examined by a doctor, then he was taken to a “dark, narrow cell” that contained nothing but two blankets, after all his personal belongings were confiscated.
However, two officers assured him that everything would be over by the morning, and that orders were given to move him to the “villa” for detention, where Bahgat could have a clean room and food given to him by his friends and lawyers.
After spending one day and a half in the well-secured room, he was transferred again to the building of the military prosecution on Tuesday, where he learned for the first time that the prosecution had decided to detain him for four days pending investigations. However, the military intelligence ordered his release on Tuesday.
“I was dictated a statement to confirm that I will abide by legal and security procedures in publishing information related to the military, and confirm that I did not undergo any physical or psychological abuse during my arrest period,” Bahgat said.
He concluded that he has no knowledge of the outcome of the investigations and the two accusations. He further thanked the Press Syndicate for providing a lawyer, however demanding that the syndicate provide immediate protection for all those working in the field.
Hossam is not a member of the syndicate, and as such is not covered by the protection provided to syndicate members, despite his many years working in the journalism field.
On the other hand, suspended TV presenter Azza El-Henawy said, in an interview with ONTV, she was previously suspended because she had accused the Minister of Communications of corruption. She added that the main charge against her now is “expressing her opinion”.
El-Hennawy added that the head of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union Essam Amir had said he will not impose any restrictions on workers, and therefore she did not receive any restrictions on her conduct.
The TV presenter was suspended after deviating from the main script during her coverage of the recent flood crisis in Alexandria and other governorates. During her segment, she called on President Al-Sisi to respond to the demands of citizens who are being “humiliated inside and outside of Egypt”.
El-Henawy added that there should be a law imposed on all officials, including Al-Sisi, to hold them accountable for negligence. She said every official should have a plan to announce to the citizens so they know what to expect.