The 6 October Prosecution on Friday extended the detention of journalist Karim Al-Behairy for another 15 days. Al Behairy had originally been arrested while covering protests commemorating the third anniversary of the 25 January Revolution for Al-Badil newspaper.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said the South Giza Prosecutions’ attorney general confirmed that Al-Behairy’s case would be reviewed on Thursday. In a statement released on Thursday, ANHRI said two of its lawyers, Ali Atef and Karim Abdel Radi, were initially prevented by security forces from attending Al-Behairy’s investigation.
Abdel Radi said they remained at the prosecution for over four hours until they filed a complaint with the prosecutor general. The investigation eventually took place on Thursday evening.
Alongside 37 others arrested during the same incident, Al-Behairy faces charges of inciting violence, blocking roads and possession of Molotov cocktails, Abdel Radi said.
Khaled Al-Balshy, chief editor of Al-Badil newspaper, said Al-Behairy’s investigation was scheduled to take place on Saturday. He added that the newspaper’s lawyer will appeal the extension of their journalist’s detention.
On 25 January, at least five photojournalists were arrested, and two more were hospitalised with injuries, with journalists being the target of a series of attacks, arrests, and assaults on that day.
Al-Balshy said that most journalists arrested that day had already been released.
“The problem with Al-Behairy is that the newspaper was only notified of his arrest 72 hours later,” Al-Balshy said. “By that time, he had already been referred to investigation and ordered a 15-day-detention.”
Abdel Radi claimed that while arresting him, security forces physically assaulted Al-Behairy and confiscated all his papers, including his press pass and contact list. He added that the journalist was not allowed to contact his lawyers, and attended his first investigation without his legal representatives.
Al-Balshy accused the authorities of “trying to fabricate charges” for Al-Behairy, such as joining a “banned” organisation, in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. He claimed that the journalist faced “severe violations” during his detention.
The UN Human Rights Office expressed its “[extreme concern] about the increasingly severe clampdown and physical attacks on media in Egypt,” in a statement released last week.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the Egyptian government to “release all journalists imprisoned for carrying out legitimate news reporting activities in exercise of their fundamental human rights,” spokesman Rupert Colville said.
Al-Balshy described the arrest of journalists during the uprising’s third anniversary as “random”. “It’s obvious security forces were targeting journalists,” he said.
The Abdeen, Maadi and Agouza Prosecutions also renewed on Thursday the detention of other detainees held since 25 January for 15 more days, according to the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters.
Over 1,000 protesters were arrested during demonstrations marking the uprising’s third anniversary. Citing a number of unnamed detainees, a report published by human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Tuesday claimed that arrested protesters were subjected to beatings and torture through electrical shock. The detained included men and women, both minors and adults.
A number of lawyers claimed that they were not allowed access to their clients who were being held in Egyptian prisons, while others claimed they were threatened when attempting to meet with the detained.
Amnesty International expressed its concern for the ongoing crackdown against voices of dissent, fearing that “many of the men, women and children arrested were merely exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly or were bystanders.”