Cairo: 22 October, 2015
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned the security forces’ raid on Mada Foundation for Media Development, and the arrest of its director, Hisham Jafar, whose whereabouts is still unknown until writing these lines.
Some police agents and National Security officers stormed the headquarters of Mada Foundation for Media Development- which manages “On Islam” website, is concerned with the media development, and a member of National Coalition for Media Freedom- at 1:30 PM on Wednesday October 12. According to eyewitnesses working at the foundation, the security officers collected the IDs of those were present at the headquarters, and then they inspected the place and the laptops. In the meantime, the agents held the foundation director “Hisham Jafar” outside the headquarters.
According to testimonies, some officers accompanying Jafar’s secretary had moved to Jafar’s house, which is near the foundation’s headquarters, as they searched it and tampered with its contents. Meanwhile, the officers, who were present at the headquarters, started to interrogate the employees and allowed the women to leave the place, but they kept the male workers for several hours. The foundation’s director escorted by the police officers appeared again at the headquarters, and then they brought him out of it; alleging that they will go back home. However, no news about Jafar has been known so far.
Prior to the arrival of some officials of the public prosecution to inspect the headquarters, the employees were allowed to leave. On the other hand, a number of lawyers, including ANHRI’s lawyer, who moved to the scene to provide legal support, have been banned from entering. ANHRI’s lawyer has mentioned that a National Security police officer asked them to leave; threatening them with bad consequences in case of not obeying the orders. Owing to the lawyers’ insistence on staying as well as their calls for enabling them to carry out their legal roles in the presence of the prosecution, the officers collected their syndicate-issued IDs to be presented to the prosecution’s representatives. Later, the lawyers were able to restores them, but their entry denied. After the prosecution inspected the headquarters, it was shut and sealed with red wax.
Separately, the security forces, at dawn, stormed the house of a journalist named “Hossam Al-Sayyed” who has worked with Jafar before, as a head of “Online Islam” website. His whereabouts, reasons for arrest, or the pressed charges have not been known so far.
“The security forces’ raid on a media foundation in this illegally manner constitutes a flagrant violation of the law and constitution. In addition, it is a blatant hostility on the press and media freedoms,” ANHRI said.
ANHRI is expressing its concern over the safety of Hisham Jafar, Mada Foundation director, and Hossam Al-Sayyed, member of Journalists’ Syndicate, who are considered cases of enforced disappearance till releasing them or proclaiming their whereabouts, by the authorities concerned. It also confirmed that taking any legal action against Jafar or Al-Sayyed later is considered void owing to the illegality of the way by which they were arrested and detained.
“Yesterday’s incidents are a new episode in a long series of violations and attacks on the press and media freedoms as well as the Egyptian civil society, by the Egyptian authorities, come in the framework of these authorities’ endeavor to curb public field completely, and to undermine the media work, and the human rights field in particular,” said ANHRI.
ANHRI demands the urgent release of Hisham Jafar and Hossam Al-Sayyed, and allowing Mada Foundation for Media Development to work and open its headquarters. It also calls on the Egyptian authorities to stop its ongoing campaign against the civil society institutions, including the smear campaigns against these institutions, as well as the pressed accusations against them. Furthermore, ANHRI calls upon the Egyptian authorities to necessarily abide by the laws concerning the procedures and warranties related to conducting any investigation based on reliable evidence and information. In addition, they should respect what is enshrined by the Egyptian constitution regarding the guarantees in case of restricting the individuals’ freedoms, and enabling the lawyers to provide legal support to them.