Journalists against Torture Observatory (JATO) issued its monthly report for August on Sunday, highlighting prominent violations against journalists and the press in Egypt.
One of the top violations detailed in the report was the administrative prosecution’s decision to refer TV presenter, script writer, and director Azza El-Hennawy to a disciplinary trial after investigations lasting five months into charges of insulting President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on air.
According to the charges levelled against her, El-Hennawy did not do her assigned work correctly as she did not stick to the script prepared for the episode, instead using offensive words about the president.
In another case, intellectual Ammar Ali Hassan was suspended from writing “political” articles in newspapers as a result of his opinion pieces that are considered a “danger and a threat” to national security by the current regime, according to Ammar’s press statement regarding the suspension decision.
Similarly, the JATO report paid attention to the referral decision of famous talk show presenter Ahmed Moussa to a disciplinary committee. He was accused of defaming member of parliament and well-known director Khalid Youssef, after Moussa showed sexually explicit personal photographs allegedly of Youssef.
The report then referred to the president’s recent promises to release 300 prisoners, including journalists and other young men who participated in demonstrations. The president asserted during his recent meeting with editors-in-chief of state-run newspapers that the release decision will be issued within days, but as of yet, no one has been released.
State-run TV director Khalid Abdel Atti was also referred to investigations over charges of shooting footage of a football fan at a match who held up four fingers palm-out [a hand sign used to express solidarity with the 2013 dispersed Muslim Brotherhood sit-in in Rabaa Al-Adaweya]. The director denied that he had intentionally focused on this, according to the report.
In August, the security apparatuses assigned to secure Beni Suef Criminal Court banned photojournalists from entering the trial session of former Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide Mohamed Badie. This decision was issued by the presiding judge, JATO noted.
Regarding assaults against journalists, the JATO report highlighted the assault against Al-Youm Al-Sabaa reporter Mohamed Ghonim inside a sports club in Gharbia governorate.
“I was assaulted inside the headquarters of Ghazl El-Mahalla sports club because I published several reports in Al-Youm Al-Sabaa over the past three months regarding financial and administrative corruption in the beginners sector of the club—many officials in the club were involved,” Ghonim clarified.
Being prevented from covering events is a difficulty faced by journalists working in Egypt. Since the start of the controversial trial of Press Syndicate leaders Yehia Qalash, Gamal Abdel Reheem, and Khaled El-Balshy, journalists have been banned from covering court sessions. This comes in addition to a media gag order by the prosecutor general in the case of security forces storming the syndicate in May.