A group of journalists filed a report on Wednesday to the Prosecutor General’s office demanding the release of detained journalist Youssef Shaaban for violence charges, whilst covering an incident.
Shaaban was arrested while presenting himself at court for an appeal on a case in which he was sentenced to prison and was released on a bail pending trial. The report was signed by head of the Press Syndicate Yehia Qallash, of which Shaaban is a member.
This comes at the same time media reports said Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat interfered to halt a two-year prison sentence for TV presenter Ahmed Moussa on grounds that the verdict was to be appealed.
Moussa was charged with slander in more than one case. Public figures such as politicians, political activists and lawyers have complained about being “defamed” in Moussa’s TV show, and accused of committing crimes without proof.
Nonetheless, Moussa continues to present his programme, accompany the president on his tours. His close relationship with the state is no secret as he openly states it.
For his part, Shaaban is detained in the same case of prominent lawyer Mahienour El-Massry.
El-Massry’s lawyer Mohamed Ramadan negotiated Wednesday his right to visit her in jail. “I visited her indeed but they refused to let me hand her a copy of prison laws and regulations which is her right,” he told Daily News Egypt.
Lawyers, journalists and activists continue to protest the re-imprisonment of 2014 Ludovic Trarieux Prize recipient El-Massry, alongside Shaaban and seven other detained activists in the case. They await a verdict on 31 May for charges of attacking the police.
Alexandria’s Al-Raml Misdemeanour Appeals Court ordered on 11 May the detention of activists Mahienour El-Massry and Youssef Shaaban, until a verdict session on 31 May for charges of demonstrating violence.
The case dates back to March 2013, when two human rights lawyers’ were assaulted by Muslim Brotherhood members who took them to Al-Raml police station where they were detained.
According to a published testimony by Tamer Khattab, an eye-witnesses and colleague of the detained, said that on 29 March 2013, he went to the station to follow up on the case. “Other lawyers came as well for assistance, but as I was inside, police forces did not allow them in under the pretext that we – lawyers – were already inside,” he said.
“Naturally, the lawyers refused this violation of their right. We went down because a quarrel had erupted between the two sides. Police forces assaulted lawyers who were in and those who wanted to come in, which we refused,” he added.
Lawyers decided to sit-in at the station awaiting the prosecution general authorities, or an official apology to the lawyers. Those who were already accused were released from the prosecution which did not charge them with anything.
As the crisis escalated between police forces and the Syndicate of Lawyers, the issue stopped there and the investigation was closed. “The fact that the case has been opened a year later shows that Alexandria security forces want to silence lawyers and activists in the city,” Khattab said.
Following the court order, the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) issued a statement saying: “The UIA reminds Egyptian authorities of their obligation, under customary international law and international principles, and as required explicitly in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (particularly Principles 16 and 17), to adequately protect and support lawyers practicing in Egypt.”