3 freelance journalists detained for filming report ‘without permission’

Menan Khater
3 Min Read
Since July 2013, courts have imprisoned journalists on “trumped-up” charges, including “belonging to a banned group”, “spreading false news, information or rumours” and “inciting violence”, among others. (Photo by Adham Youssef)

Eleven journalists have been released and three will remain in detention at Dokki police station for 15 days for filming without permission and publishing false claims, confirmed their lawyer Ahmed Abdel Naby.

The Ministry of Interior said in an official statement Saturday that it had arrested 14 people while they were filming interviews that allegedly propagate false rumours about the police.

Police confiscated their filming material, according to the statement, and transcribed the material, which they said included many false allegations against the police. The statement accused the journalists of receiving EGP 15,000 in return for publishing the material.

Abdel Naby, the lawyer who attended the investigations with the defendants, told Daily News Egypt that the TV production crew was arrested in a Dokki apartment while filming about students in Egypt.

“They are freelance producers who were supposed to sell the material after they finish production. However, police forces arrested them as soon as they started filming, even without having arrest warrants,” he said.

Abdel Naby said the arrest was possibly due to a tip off to the police regarding the crew’s work.

During the prosecution investigations, eleven of technical staff members were released and the three who remained in detention were responsible for the content. Those three were also accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and of propagating its ideologies.

“Hosting people for an interview does not constitute an endorsement,” said Abdel Naby. “There is no clear evidence against them so far except for the confiscated equipment. We have no choice but to wait until the detention renewal session in about 15 days.”

An official at the Ministry of Interior told Daily News Egypt, on condition of anonymity, that the reporters who were arrested did not have permission for shooting or proof that they are journalists.

“Generally, it is not considered normal for any person to hold do random jobs from their homes and gain profit from it. The aforementioned defendants in particular were accusing the police of false allegations,” said the official

According to the official, it is not fair to focus only on the negative issues, despite individual violations. “Police officers are the first to be held accountable.”

In the wake of the 30 June uprising, an unstable political climate took its toll on journalists as well as security forces. Freelance reporters in particular have faced constant threats for cooperating with Brotherhood-affiliated media outlets.

Freelance photojournalist Mahmoud Abo Zeid, also known as Shawkan, has been in detention since 14 August 2013. He was arrested while covering the violent dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in.

At least 42 other journalists are either in detention or at risk of being detained, according to the latest Press Syndicate census.

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Politics and investigative reporter for Daily News Egypt. Initiator and lead instructor of DNE's special reporting project for university students 'What Lies Beyond.' Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/menannn1
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