The family of detained journalist Mohamed El-Battawy held a sit-in Sunday at the Press Syndicate, calling on journalists’ support for an “open sit-in” until their demands to authorities for his release are met.
His sister Fatma told Daily News Egypt that El-Battawy was taken from his house in the absence of his wife, after masked security forces men raided the family’s building.
El-Battawy’s wife Rofaida said their house was searched and personal items such as family photos and masters’ degree research papers and books were taken.
Rofaida explained that her husband has been gone since 17 June, and that they did not know his whereabouts for several days. This was “despite the arresting officer saying they were taking him to Talkha police station” in his native governorate of Daqahleya.
“Nonetheless, neither did we find him there nor in any surrounding police station all the way to Banha,” she explained. Rofaida added that, after efforts by the Press Syndicate, they were able to obtain information that he was held by National Security authorities.
“After six days, news about his detention spread,” Rofaida said. El-Battawy was facing the accusation of belonging to an illegal organisation – in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, she claimed the official reports contained no such accusation. When asked if she saw the prosecution report, Rofaida said that she was told so by a rights’ lawyer.
Moreover, Rofaida claimed that her calls to the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) were not answered. According to her allegations, phone numbers of the Human Rights Department of the Ministry of Interior were turned off.
Last week, head of the Press Syndicate Yehia Qallash filed a complaint to Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat, demanding to know of El-Battawy’s whereabouts and the charges he was facing.
A few hours later, state authorities announced he was at Tora prison, and added that he was accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.
His wife suspects he has been subject to torture, saying visitors to Tora prison reportedly brought her a message from him asking for glasses. “I don’t know if he lost them in the [torture] process,” she said.
El-Battawy, 30, is father to a two-year-old girl. He started his journalistic career with Akhbar El-Youm in 2007.