Abdullah Al-Fakharany and Samhi Mostafa have reportedly been taken from their prison cell in Tora Prison to an unknown location Saturday morning, and information about their whereabouts is yet to be known.
Fakharany and Mostafa, board members of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Rassd News Network, are currently serving their life sentence in prison. They were accused of spreading false news and “forming an operations room to direct the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government during the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in dispersal and to spread chaos in the country” in the trial widely known as the “Rabaa Operations Room” case.
Rassd reported on Sunday the disappearance of Al-Fakharany and Mostafa “after being taken away by the homeland security from their prison cell”, and held the Egyptian government responsible for their disappearance. It also called on press syndicates and human rights organisations to perform their duty in exercising pressure on the Egyptian government to end violations against media workers.
RNN is a Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie partner. Since 2011, several citizen journalists and managers, including Mostafa and Al-Fakharany, have participated in DW Akademie trainings and workshops. However, since the military-led ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, RNN’s reputation has fallen alongside that of the group it gives voice to.
The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Al-Fakharany, Mostafa, and 12 other journalists and media workers on 11 April to life in prison in the “Rabaa Operations Room” case, which also includes high profile figures of the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and Salah Soltan.
According to previous statements by Al-Fakharany and Mostafa’s lawyer, previously during investigations, the media workers’ case had been combined with the case of the high profile Brotherhood leaders.
In the case, 14 journalists and media workers were convicted; 13 received life sentences, and one received the death penalty. Along with the two Rassd journalists, Mohamed Al-Adly, a presenter on the Islamist Amgad channel, and Egyptian-American activist Mohamed Soltan were convicted.
The Egyptian-American son of Brotherhood leader Salah Soltan was released on 30 May to return to the US after surrendering his Egyptian nationality, following the deportation law.
More cases of forced disappearances have been surfacing over the past weeks. 163 cases of forced disappearances have been reported during April and May, according to the Freedom for the Brave campaign.
The month of May saw 87 cases, with the third week being the busiest of the month with 41 cases reported.
In addition, the Justice Center for Rights and Freedoms reported the disappearance of 91 university students during the past two months. Among those who disappeared, 53 reappeared in state institutions, while 38 are still missing.