The first indicators of Sisi’s new term: Raiding the HQ of Masr al-Arabia website and arresting the editor

Cairo 4 April, 2018

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today that the state bodies must put an end to its anti-press freedom practices and that the Supreme Council of Media Regulation should play its role in addressing the successive attacks against journalists, the last of which was yesterday, as security personnel raided the headquarters of Masr al-Arabia website and arrested its editor, Adel Sabri, and detaining him, till now, under false allegations.

On Sunday, The Complaints Committee of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation decided to fine «Masr al-Arabia» website 50 thousand Egyptian pounds for translating a report on 29 March and publishing it under the title “The New York Times .. Egyptians are marching for the elections for 3 dollars” for allegedly violating professional rules, although the website cited the New York Times as its source, nevertheless, it was considered by the committee to be responsible for publishing false news without verification or commentary. A couple of days later the attack escalated to raiding the headquarters and arresting the editor-in-chief.

It is worth mentioning that Masr al-Arabia website has been on the list of blocked websites for many months, as part of the website blocking campaign by the security services against opposition websites in violation of articles 31 and 68 of the Constitution, which protect information space security and access to information

Masr al-Arabia website “http://www.masralarabia.com/” which was one of the professional websites that continued to work despite the restrictions and blocking, and where more than 50 journalists work, has been raided by the security forces in an attempt to intimidate journalists for allegedly the lack of a license from the municipality, and then the editor-in-chief, “Adel Sabri,” was arrested to be brought this morning before the Dokki Prosecution.

ANHRI said: “With this police raid, Masr al-Arabia website became the first victim of the new era of General Sisi’s presidency, as if the security bodies who carried out this raid confirm that freedom of the press and respect for the rule of law have become a thing of the past.”

ANHRI calls on the authorities to immediately release Adel Sabri, as well as all journalists, and to stop the prosecution of media institutions, to stop criminalizing the press and to put an end to all policies that violate freedom of expression, to respect freedom of information, to refrain from blocking media websites and platforms, and to allow free press to operate freely and unconditionally in accordance with the constitutional and legal frameworks and in line with international covenants and conventions.