Hossam Bahgat, journalist and founder of human rights group Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, was released on Tuesday, November 10th after being detained arbitrarily for two days.
Hossam was summoned to Egypt’s Military Intelligence headquarters on Sunday morning and later sent to Military Prosecution, where he was initially interrogated without legal counsel present. Military Prosecution ordered on Monday that he be detained for four days pending investigation but intelligence officials told him they decided to release him early.
Hossam’s summons and detention were related primarily to the October 13th investigative report published in Mada Masr on the military trial of 26 officers for allegedly plotting "regime change." He was accused of “deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest” and “publishing, with malicious intent, false news that is likely to disturb public order.” This was despite the fact that his investigation relied extensively on official, military court documentation.
Currently, the state of the inquiry against Hossam is unknown. It is unclear whether Hossam is still being prosecuted or if the case against him has been dismissed. However, irrespective of this, his arbitrary detention by the Egyptian authorities was meant to stifle free expression and crush independent media – the cornerstone of any free society.
There is no guarantee that the political persecution of Hossam has ended – and although his case prompted international condemnation, it is just one of many. We call on our respective governments to use their influence with Egyptian officials to demand respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as the protection of journalists and human rights defenders in Egypt and their right to freedom of expression.
The following organizations are members of the International Network for Civil Liberties Organizations
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS, Argentina)
Human Rights Law Network (HRLN, India)
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
Legal Resources Centre (LRC, South Africa)