• January 9, 2016
  • 34 minutes read

Arab Media Freedom Monitor Annual Report: 100 Journalists Jailed in 2015

Arab Media Freedom Monitor Annual Report: 100 Journalists Jailed in 2015

Cairo: Tuesday – January 5, 2016

– The annual report of rights organization Arab Media Freedom Monitor (AMFM) issued for the year 2015:

In the third year of military rule in Egypt, systematic press freedom violations intensified as one of the inherent qualities of military rule in general. Many Egyptian journalists and media professionals awaited the return of normal life and full freedom for the press, after the presidential election that made general Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi president of Egypt. Instead, they faced more repression, restrictions and muzzling of media mouths.

Junta repression and persecution was no longer restricted to targeting traditional opponents of the regime – who reject the military coup as illegitimate. In 2015, junta violations harshly targeted a lot of media institutions that in fact supported the July 3 (2013) coup, such as Watan, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Dostour newspapers, with some of their issues banned and confiscated by military junta authorities, who also summoned those papers’ editors for interrogation regarding what they published.

Junta repression also targeted and impacted senior journalists and media henchmen who supported the so-called July 3 (2013) road map. Those included Ibrahim Essa, Alaa Al-Aswani, Amr Hamzawy, Abdel-Halim Qandil, Magdi Al-Gallad, Suleiman Al-Hakim, Islam Beheiri, and Tawfiq Okasha, etc.

It is no surprise many are voicing objections to the curbing of press freedom. These voices, however, remain trapped behind the walls of their union, without any support from their Board of Directors until now. Fear is still master of the situation. But that continued fear tempts the putschist regime’s authorities to commit further violations against journalists and the media, just as silence caused the imprisonment of dozens over the past two years, including many of those who had favored silence before.

The spilling of Egyptian journalists’ blood never stopped during the year 2015, which saw four new deaths added to a list of 10 other media professionals killed since the July 3, 2013 coup. This brings the death toll to 14 media workers.

One of the 4 journalists killed in 2015 was Mohamed Galal (his death was never investigated by coup authorities), while the others were Sherif Al-Feki, Alaa Ahmed Salim and Tamer Bedir.

AMFM also documented 45 cases of physical abuse of reporters, including an assassination attempt on press photographer Ahmed Gamal Zeyada, who had only recently been released from prison after 500 days behind bars. We further documented 60 cases of verbal abuse and rough treatment of field correspondents, and about 1850 reporting bans where journalists were prevented from covering ongoing events, mostly by junta regime officials.

As for imprisonment and detention in 2015, some 24 media professionals were released, including the three Al-Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmi, as well as the journalists Ahmed Gamal Zeyada, Ahmed Izz Al-Din Ahmed Tanobi, Mohamed Ali Hassan and Yehya Khalaf.

Furthermore, junta authorities arrested 18 new journalists and media workers, including Ismail Eskandarani, Hisham Gaafar, Mohamed Batawi, Hassan Kabany and Abu-Bakr Khallaf, which means the list of jailed journalists who are still languishing behind bars now has 100 names. With this number, Egypt takes the first place globally in the imprisonment of journalists – undisputed – contrary to recent reports from certain human rights organizations (such as Reporters Without Borders and the International Committee to Protect Journalists) which put Egypt in second place after China, which only has 23 journalists in jail.

Incidentally, we define "journalist" as everyone who reports or photographs news in accordance with professional standards and is paid for the job, regardless of affiliation or non-affiliation of the journalists’ union.

Many of these jailed journalists suffer extremely difficult health conditions. In fact, they let us know (via smuggled messages or through their families) that they literally face a slow death in prison, where they are denied access to medications. Indeed, several of them require urgent surgery procedures in hospitals. All of them are treated harshly, in a most inhuman manner.

AMFM calls for Egyptian authorities to quickly release jailed journalists. Until that happens, it demands that all those who need surgical procedures are transferred to private hospitals, and that health care and humane treatment should be provided for the rest of jailed journalists. AMFM further demands that prison authorities must respect the law which guarantees allocation of sufficient time for family visits to prisoners.

In 2015, Egyptian courts issued harsh sentences against journalists and media professional perceived as opponents of the coup regime. A journalist (Walid Shalaby) was sentenced to death, while 15 others (in the same case) received life imprisonment sentences.

Military courts sentenced journalist Abdel-Rahman Shahin to life imprisonment, and writer Mahmoud Kalaawi to a 10-year jail term. Other courts issued harsh sentences in absentia against a number of media personalities such as Ahmed Mansour, Mohamed Nasser, Moataz Matar, Salah Abdel-Maksoud and Mohamed Al-Koddosi. Other sentences were issued against some loyal pro-junta journalists such as Magdy Al-Gallad, Ahmed Moussa, Islam Beheiri, Mona Al-Iraqi and Mohamed Saad Khattab.

With regard to the new restrictions on the freedom of the press, AMFM documented 14 bans on publication in matters of public concern, in violation of constitutional articles stipulating free flow and circulation of information. We also documented many written and oral instructions from the coup regime’s executive bodies for individuals to refrain from making statements to the press or the media. Meanwhile, the cabinet has just issued a new draft law that gives free rein to coup authorities to close internet websites and impose disproportionately heavy sanctions for flimsy reasons.

In addition to the many TV channels that are still closed (since the July 3, 2013 coup) and the programs that were stopped over the past two years, during 2015 a number of programs were banned for various reasons. Of these, 3 programs were banned for political reasons, namely Tawfiq Okasha’s "Masr Al-Youm" (Egypt Today), Islam Beheiri’s "Ma’a Islam" (With Islam) and Ibrahim Essa’s BOSS.

As for raids and confiscations, AMFM documented 7 cases where coup authorities confiscated newspapers: Watan (twice), Al-Masreyoun, Sawt Al-Umma (Voice of the Nation), Al-Sabah, Al-Bayan, Al-Yawm Al-Sabea – all because of published criticism of officials. We also documented 10 raids on media offices and homes of journalists.

In 2015, Egyptian authorities started more repression practices against the press and journalists, especially in the last two days of the year, where the coup regime stopped the printing and confiscated all already printed copies of Al-Yawm Al-Sabea newspapers on December 30.

Coup authorities also blocked Al-Arabi Al-Gadid website in Egypt, stopped a "free internet" project that aimed to serve four million Egyptians, and arrested a journalist from Bawaba Yanayer (January Portal).

With repression expanding and with the tightening of restrictions and the security grip on the free flow of information, more gag orders were issued (14 over the 12 months), more pressure was put on the press and journalists. This killed real competitiveness, which resulted in a stagnation and recession in the press market. Some newspapers and TV channels resorted to austerity plans which included laying off large numbers of journalists and media professionals in national and private newspapers and private TV channels.

AMFM calls on all international organizations concerned with freedom of the press to put more effort in documenting cases of violations in Egypt, to move to save the Egyptian press and Egyptian journalists, and to put pressure on Egyptian authorities to stop their violations and release jailed journalists immediately.

We pay tribute to all those who cooperated with us in the completion of this report: families and lawyers of jailed journalists, media professionals who were victims or witnesses of violations and atrocities, and human rights centers concerned with freedom of the press which assisted our endeavors.

List of names of 100 journalists and media professionals currently imprisoned:

(Note: A large number of these detainees are classified as reporters or freelance photographers because they work with some TV channels without formal contracts {AMFM withholds the names of the channels in which they work, in order to avoid any legal complications}. We define "journalist" as everyone who reports or photographs news in accordance with professional standards and is paid for the job, regardless of affiliation or non-affiliation of the journalists’ union.)

1. Ismail Eskandarani (freelance journalist)

2. Hisham Gaafar (Mada Misr)

3. Hossam Elsayed (Misr Al-Arabiya website)

4. Mohamed Batawi (Akhbar Al-Yawm)

5. Abu-Bakr Khallaf (Electronic Media)

6. Hassan Kabany (Karama newspaper)

7. Youssef Shaaban (Bedaya website)

8. Islam Beheiri (Al-Kaira wa-Nas TV channel)

9. Ahmed Saleh (free-land satellite TV Reporter)

10. Mohamed Nawareg (freelance reporter)

11. Islam Gomaa (Misr Al-Aan correspondent)

12. Mosab Hamed (Misr 25)

13. Mahmoud Mustafa (Nahar newspaper)

14. Abdul-Rahman Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (national distribution)

15. Magdi Ahmed Hussein (chief editor of Al-Shaab Al-Gadid)

16. Hani Salah El-Din (managing editor of Al-Yawm Al-Sabea)

17. Ibrahim Al-Darawi (member of the Press Syndicate)

18. Mohsen Radi (former managing editor of Al-Dawa magazine)

19. Saeed Abu-Hag (photojournalist and director of Sinai Media Center)

20. Amr Al-Khafif (former Broadcast Engineering Director in Maspero TV HQ)

21. Imad Abu-Zeid (Al-Ahram newspaper)

22. Ahmed Sobei (Director of Al-Aqsa TV office in Cairo)

23. Samihi Mustafa (RASSD news network)

24. Ayman Saqr (Al-Masreyoun newspaper)

25. Mohamed Salah (journalist, Al-Shaab Al-Gadid newspaper)

26. Ibrahim Suleiman (Al-Khamissa TV Channel)

27. Omar Abdel-Maksoud (Misr Al-Arabiya website)

28. Mahmoud Shukan (Demotix photojournalism)

29. Bakri Abdel-Aal (Al-Raya newspaper)

30. Mohamed Yamani (Freedom and Justice newspaper)

31. Abdel-Rahman Shahin (Freedom and Justice newspaper, Al-Jazeera)

32. Hossam Essa (Freedom and Justice newspaper)

33. Mohamed Madani (Misr 25 TV channel)

34. Mossaad Barbary (Director, Ahrar 25 TV channel)

35. Khalid Hamdi (Misr 25 TV channel)

36. Hassan Khodari (Misr 25 TV channel)

37. Khaled Abdel-Aziz (Misr 25 TV channel)

38. Gamal Al-Alim (Misr 25 TV channel)

39. Osama Izzel-Din (Misr 25 TV channel)

40. Mohamed Hegazi (Misr 25 TV channel)

41. Mohamed Al-Adli (Amgad TV channel)

42. Hassan Ibrahim Al-Banna (freelance photographer)

43. Mahmoud Gad (freelance photographer)

44. Abdullah Fakharani (RASSD news network)

45. Abdel-Rahman Morsi (Al-Aqsa TV)

46. ​​Mahmoud Abdel-Nabi Awad (RASSD network)

47. Ibrahim Abdel-Nabi Awad (RASSD network)

48. Khalid Abdel-Rauf Sahloub (RASSD network)

49. Khaled Hamza (Chief Editor, ikhwanweb news website)

50. Sayed Moussa (Amgad TV channel)

51. Alia Nasr El-Din Awad (RASSD)

52. Mohamed Abul-Soul (Akhbar Al-Yawm)

53. Mohamed Reda (freelance photographer)

54. Ahmed Ali Al-Naggar (freelance photographer)

55. Mohamed Suleiman (freelance photographer)

56. Emad Mohamed (freelance photographer)

57. Moataz Mustafa Shahin (ikhwanonline news website)

58. Mohamed Salah Sowaidan (ikhwanonline)

59. Karim Mustafa Elsayed (Shabab TV channel)

60. Omar Ahmed (freelance photographer)

61. Mohamed Ezzat (ikhwanonline)

62. Abdullah Shusha (Amgad TV channel)

63. Ashour Imran Mohamed Ahmed (freelance reporter)

64. Mohamed Hamdi Rossol-Allah (freelance reporter)

65. Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Awad (freelance reporter, Al-Jazeera)

66. Abdel-Rahman Labib Hendeya (freelance reporter, Al-Jazeera)

67. Lashin Ahmed (Misr 25)

68. Ahmed Fouad Mohamed El-Sayed (Karmoz news website)

69. Shadi Abdel-Hamid (freelance reporter, affiliated with Al-Jazeera)

70. Suhaib Mohamed (freelance reporter, affiliated with Al-Jazeera)

71. Khalid Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (freelance reporter, affiliated with Al-Jazeera)

72. Wael Al-Hadini (freelance reporter)

73. Ibrahim Talha (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

74. Mahmoud Gamal Ali Osman (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

75. Mohei Qasim Mohamed Abdel-Gawwad (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

76. Mohamed Mustafa Abdel-Nasser Abdel-Qadir (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

77. Ahmed Muharram Abdel-Salam (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

78. Abdel-Rahman Mohamed Ahmed (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

79. Bilal Kamal Abdel-Aal (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

80. Mohamed Abdel-Nabi Fathi Abda (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

81. Mohamed Ragab (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

82. Mustafa Ban (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

83. Mustafa Madeeh Helmi (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

84. Sameh Mohamed Ahmed Bakri (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

85. Ahmed Muharram (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

86. Abdullah Gamal Moftah (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

87. Mohamed Mamoun Abu-Shusha (Misr 25)

88. Ammar Samir Abdel-Ghani Ahmed (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

89. Ahmed Khamis Mahmoud Khidr (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

90. Bilal Abdullah Ahmed Abdul-Rahim (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

91. Salah Ali Shehata (freelance)

92. Abdel-Rahman Hassan Abdel-Hafeez (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

93. Ahmed Khamis Anwar Abdel-Qawi (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

94. Karam Abdullah (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

95. Hudhaifah Mohamed (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

96. Osama Hashem Mohamed Hashem (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

97. Omar Mohamed Mabrook El-Sawi (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

98. Ahmed Ali Ahmed Al-Naggar (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

99. Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Shehata (freelance reporter, affiliated with satellite TV channels)

100. Mahmoud Saqqa (Yanayer Portal)

Arab Media Freedom Monitor