The Cairo Criminal Court renewed on Monday the detention of freelance journalist and researcher Ismail Eskandarani, extending his detention for another 45 days pending investigations.
The Egyptian journalist faces charges of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Further, he is accused of “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation”, as described by his friend and journalist Ahmed Sakr, and spreading false information that threatens peace and national security.
Security forces arrested the defendant in late November at Hurghada airport on his way back from Germany after he had lectured and participated in a series of seminars in Europe and the US on the political situation in Egypt.
The detailed reasons for Eskandarani’s arrest remain undisclosed by authorities.
The defendant was kept in detention by the airport’s authorities and National Security for several days, until he was referred to the State Security Prosecution on 1 December 2015, which ordered his remand.
The accusations are not based on any evidence, the defendant’s lawyer Khaled Ali told local press.
Eskandarani is a researcher with the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) and an independent journalist who specialises in the Sinai Peninsula.
He wrote for several local and international news websites and was awarded several press prizes, both locally and internationally. Eskandarani also ran research for the France-based Arab Reform Initiative and had been a visiting fellow at the US-based Woodrow Wilson Centre.
The journalist is known for his critical tone against the Egyptian regime, but also for opposing the political tendencies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ali previously told BBC Arabic.
The Egyptian government has faced wide-spread critique from various local rights organisations and activists in response to the journalist’s arrest.
They proclaim that it is the result of a crackdown on critical journalism since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was elected into office.
The annual report on freedom of the press issued by the US-based Freedom House in 2015 ranked Egypt second after China as the most active jailer of journalists.
Moreover, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), which condemned the arrest of Eskandarani as well as his detention, also demanded urgent and unconditioned release of the detained once he was jailed.
Eskandarani is being detained at the high security Tora prison, where thousands of Egyptian political prisoners are held. He stands in line among many cases where several activists have been banned from travelling or arrested while returning from abroad.