The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) has “strongly condemned” the arrest of Sinai based journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa.
Abu Deraa was arrested last week by military forces in Sinai and is currently facing military trial, but the charges are still unclear because the military has refused to disclose them. There is speculation that he is being tried for publishing false news on the military.
EOHR called for the immediate release of Abu Deraa in a statement on Sunday. “Referring journalists to military trials while they cover news… is a setback to freedom of opinion and expression, a right guaranteed by international charters and conventions on human rights…”
Hafez Abu Se’da, head of EOHR said freedom is one of the “building blocks” of democracy and it should not be violated in any way or under any pretext of confronting terrorism or violence.
Abu Deraa reported on 3 September that four people were injured, and six houses and a mosque were destroyed during an aircraft bombing of El-Toma and El-Mokata’a villages. The military had earlier released a statement claiming it had killed “23 terrorists” in attacks on the two villages.
Abu Deraa works for private satellite channel ONTV and private newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, the latter of which says it formed a legal committee to defend him. He won the 2013 Samir Kassir Award for an investigative piece on human trafficking in Sinai but the military spokesperson denied he was a journalist, adding that he does not have a Press Syndicate ID or a license to go inside military-restricted areas.
His arrest has raised local and international concerns on the safety of journalists in Egypt. The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have both called for his release.
The Press Syndicate expressed concern over his arrest and demanded that authorities reveal his charges.