Amnesty reports chilling details of Egypt press crackdown
CAIRO: Journalism in Egypt has effectively become a crime over the past four years, as authorities clamp down on media outlets and muzzle dissent, Amnesty International said in a report released Sunday.
As the number of coronavirus infections in Egypt continues to rise, the government is strengthening its control over information, the London-based rights group said, instead of upholding transparency during the public health crisis.
“The Egyptian authorities have made it very clear that anyone who challenges the official narrative will be severely punished,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.
Amnesty documented 37 cases of journalists detained in the government’s escalating crackdown on press freedoms, many charged with “spreading false news” or “misusing social media” under a broad 2015 counterterrorism law that has expanded the definition of terror to include all kinds of dissent.
An Egyptian press officer did not respond to multiple calls seeking comment, but authorities have previously denied rights violations and justified arrests on national security grounds.
Following general-turned-president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s rise to power in 2013, most of Egypt’s television programs and newspapers have taken the government position and steered clear of criticism, or else disappeared. Many privately owned Egyptian news outlets have been quietly acquired by companies affiliated with the country’s intelligence service. - AP