Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek lifted on Tuesday a gag order on the case involving the security raid of the Press Syndicate, where journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud Al-Saqa were arrested.
The case procedures were ordered by the Ministry of Interior, a statement from the prosecution read. It stated that both journalists are facing criminal charges that are not related to their work and if investigations prove that the head of the syndicate was hiding the journalists, he will be held accountable.
There are no legal or constitutional reasons that would prevent security forces from arresting journalists from inside the syndicate, the statement added.
The prosecution renewed the detention of both journalists on Monday for 15 days. They face charges of inciting the public to topple the regime, joining an organisation that aims to harm national unity and public peace, and publishing rumours and false news that could disrupt general security.
Badr and Al-Saqa were arrested on 1 May when security forces stormed the Press Syndicate, the first time any such incident has occurred since its foundation. On Saturday both journalists began a sit-in outside the Press Syndicate’s headquarters to protest security raids conducted at their private residencies at dawn on Friday, the second raid they had been subjected to in the past two weeks.
The gag order prohibits printed or televised news outlets to publish anything about the case except any statements from the prosecution on the case. The gag order will be upheld until the investigation is completed.
This is the second media gag issued in the past week. On 30 April Judge Ahmed Abdel Maged issued a gag order on the 25 April protesters case, the first case of its kind to receive such an order.
These gag orders are often considered an attempt to prohibit journalists from their right to gather information about significant issues as well as being against press freedom. Journalists and opposition groups further condemn the use of media gag orders in Egypt, explaining that a gag order is meant to be imposed on the investigation flow rather than to prevent people or media from discussing it.