Four journalists have been arrested in Egypt over the past week, adding to 18 journalists already imprisoned, according to a survey conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on 1 June.
CPJ reports that Wagdy Khaled, a photographer for the weekly newspaper Al-Masriya, was arrested on Friday while taking photographs outside a Cairo mosque. He is being held on suspicion of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
On Wednesday, police arrested Mohamed Adly, a correspondent for the independent newspaper Tahrir; Hamdy Mokhtar, a photojournalist for the opposition news website El-Shaab el-Jadeed; and freelance journalist Sherif Ashraf.
They were covering the arrival of the bodies of nine Muslim Brotherhood members who had been killed in a raid by security forces. And they too are suspected of belonging to the Brotherhood.
That raid came two days after prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat was killed in a bomb attack on his convoy in Cairo, which was said to be the work of the Brotherhood.
“The crackdown on the press is deepening at a time when the public needs independent reporting on the security threats that Egypt is facing,” said CPJ’sMiddle East and North Africa programme coordinator Sherif Mansour.
“We call on the authorities to release these journalists immediately and drop all charges against them.”
On Sunday, the Guardian reported on a government anti-terrorism bill, which includes an article that would impose a minimum of two years in prison on journalists convicted of publishing news about terrorist operations “that contradict official statements.”
The bill, which threatens press freedom, awaits the approval of the president. “If adopted, this law will mean that the only permissible narrative on certain stories is that of the state,” said Mansour.