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Hossam Bahgat released, press freedom still bleak - Daily News Egypt

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Hossam Bahgat released, press freedom still bleak

63 more journalists are still behind bars since 2013: ANHRI

Renowned journalist and activist Hossam Bahgat was released from the military prosecution on Tuesday after two days of arrest and military interrogation over an investigative report, according to sources from Mada Masr.

However, dozens of other journalists are still detained for reporting charges, according to the regional observatory the Arab Network for Human Rights and Information (ANHRI).

The journalists include freelance reporters and photojournalists, online reporters, and TV broadcasters for Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated channels, such as Amgad and Misr 25, in addition to Al Jazeera.

On the day of Bahgat’s release, a state TV anchor Azza Al-Henawy was facing interrogation on her coverage of the flood crisis in Alexandria. Al-Henawy was suspended from her work pending investigations for the third time, after previous suspensions during Morsi and Mubarak’s ruling periods.

Protests in different cities were scheduled to take place on Tuesday in front of Egyptian consulates in solidarity with Bahgat, demanding his immediate release. The protests were set to take place in Tunisia, New York, Berlin and London, in addition to a protest in Cairo at the Press Syndicate.

More condemnations were made by local rights groups on the arrest of Bahgat. Seventeen organisations signed a joint statement saying: “The arrest of Bahgat is another form of direct intimidation which will have a suffocating reflection on any journalist attempting to expand even a little in the limits of press freedom in today’s Egypt.”

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry denounced on Tuesday the statements made by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday on the arrest of journalist Hossam Bahgat.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zaid was quoted in the statement as saying: “Ban’s statements included individual cases and jumped to conclusions and assumptions regarding freedom of expression in Egypt, despite the clear violations Bahgat made according to the penal code.”

Due to his years working in human rights issues in Egypt and recently in journalism, Bahgat’s arrest sparked widespread concerns, both locally and globally. Twenty-two lawyers are on his defence team, the largest team of its kind.

Yet many other detained journalists barely receive public support.

Youssef Shaaban, a journalist for Al-Bedaiah news website, went back to prison on charges of attacking a police station in Alexandria, during the Brotherhood’s ruling period.

A patient of hepatitis-C, Shabaan barely receives any medical treatment inside the cell, outside food from family visits, books, or even clothes, according to his wife Ranwa Youssef’s statements.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abo Zeid, also known as ‘Shawkan’, has been in detention without trial for over 700 days, since August 2013. He was arrested while covering the dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit in. His detention exceeds the longest period of pretrial detention. He is the only journalist standing in the trial of at least 400 defendants in the Rabaa Al-Adaweya case.

During his detention, Shawkan has gone on hunger strike and wrote many letters about his life in prison, but no responses were made.

Facing similar charges, photojournalist Esraa El-Taweel is currently in pretrial detention despite a bullet injury in her leg. She has received minimal medical treatment in prison, despite official calls from the Doctors’ Syndicate to provide her needed physiotherapy treatment.

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