The Interior Ministry branded Sunday a special report in Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper documenting police violations as “libellous”, and vowed to take legal action against the newspaper.
The privately-owned newspaper published Sunday a set of critical articles arguing that individuals in the police apparatus have been engaging in acts of torture, rape, cooption, abuse, theft, and kidnapping.
In a statement, the ministry expressed its reservations on the published content.
The special file, dubbed “Martyrs and Violations”, argued that the Interior Ministry’s actions are considered a “return to the era of [former Interior Minister Habib] Al-Adly”.
Al-Adly was the controversial interior minister under former President Hosni Mubrak, whose legacy is associated with mass torture, corruption, oppression against the opposition and severe intervention in the political scene. After the revolution, Al-Adly faced charges of killing peaceful protesters, corruption, and abusing conscripts in domestic work for his villa.
Al-Masry Al-Youm also discussed the controversial topic of police conscripts in Egypt, arguing that they are chosen from the country’s lower classes, and are known to be “blindly obedient”. The Central Security Forces (CSF) has engaged in many violent dispersals of protests on Egypt’s streets since the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution.
The newspaper also reported that there were five incidents involving the police whichcaused the public to see the police in its “pre 30-June 2013” era. The police have been widely portrayed as “protectors of the homeland” since the 30 June ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi.
The incidents included the killing of the leftist activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh in a protest, the killing of a conscript by his officer in Sinai, the shooting of a citizen by a police officer in a hospital, the alleged rape of a girl by two policemen, and the torture of lawyer Kareem Hamdy in the Matariya police station.
However, the ministry argued that the motive behind the reports were that the reporter and the editor of the newspaper were previously charged with spreading “false news” and interrogated by the State Security prosecution.
Al-Masry Al-Youm editor Youssry Al-Badri said that the Interior Ministry’s response is “blaming their mistakes on the media”.
He described the response as “funny”, and said the ministry is ignoring the accusations.
“The ministry turned into a journalism academy, where articles are being assessed, instead of dealing with their failures and controlling their individuals,” Al-Badriadded.
The ministry’s reply on Sunday is not the first reaction from the police apparatus to journalism in Egypt. Last week, the ministry announced that it arrested a reporter at Al-Dostour newspaper, charged over a range of criminal offences, from drug and weapons possession to theft, to forgery and bribery. However, the ministry statement said the reporter’s articles discussed alleged “police violations”.
Al-Badri added that the content of Sunday’s issue is a “warning so the police return to protecting civilians”.
Further, one page of Al-Masry Al-Youm was censored last year was censored by “governmental officials”.
The censored page should have included an interview with a former agent in the General Intelligence Directorate about special espionage operations by the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.