Communication with the media is not a crime & the Egyptian government must put an end to persecuting critics and dissidents with elastic accusations

Cairo 19 February, 2018

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today that the Egyptian government should stop persecuting and imprisoning dissidents and critics on the grounds of expressing their views in an anti-state media outlet and should respect the constitution which safeguards the right to freedom of expression.

Many dissidents and critics have been arrested for allegedly communicating with anti-state media outlets. The list, which has become huge, especially in recent months, now includes Dr. Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh, the head of the Strong Egypt party and former presidential candidate, as well as journalist Moataz Wadnan.

ANHRI regrets having to remind of basic explicit legal principles, that a criminal felony is a personal crime, to be attributed to a person not to an entity; there could be a person who violates or does not violate the law, therefore no media outlet is criminal or hostile, but rather a criminal or hostile person. Moreover, disagreement with the political regime or with the authorities is not not necessarily equal to disagreement with the state or the people.

ANHRI sees that the ongoing prosecution of dissenting opinion, which is not in line with the state bodies, is the real crime here, so is the attempt to use the judiciary in political rivalry, the Egyptian government ought rather to stop using the media to serve its purposes, instead it should let it exercise its natural role in spreading news and different opinions.

ANHRI’s executive director Gamal Eid said “The Egyptian government turns a blind eye to the media figures who spread lies and violate the privacy by airing illegal recordings on channels owned by their close associates, such channels insult the January 25 Revolution day and night in the name of freedom of expression, some of them promote lies such as capturing the captain the U.S. Sixth Fleet Commander in the name of freedom of expression or the lie of treating AIDS with a skewer of Kofta (ground meet) in the name of freedom of information while at the same time prosecuting and persecuting those who criticize wasting the rule of law or misguided policies on channels out of their reach. “

ANHRI stresses that the adoption of policies to put the media under siege, impose restrictions on freedom of the press, waste freedom of expression and punishing those who express their opinion in the media outlets with which the state is not satisfied constitutes a huge threat to the Egyptian society and increase the climate of hatred that is hovering over Egypt because of such policies.

ANHRI also stresses that the attempt to use the judiciary in political disputes risks losing confidence in the justice system, especially with the growing phenomenon of prolonged pre-trial detention on the basis of interrogation notes, which are often unjust, fabricated, and not based on real incriminating evidence that suggests that a crime has been committed by a citizen or a journalist.

ANHRI renews its demand to put an end to considering opposition or criticism a crime, because the real crime is eliminating critical voices and violating freedom of expression. ANHRI insists that all prisoners of conscience must be released, detainees should have fair and transparent investigations that presume innocence before conviction, abiding by the rule that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.