On September 8, 2022, Egyptian prosecutors summoned and interrogated four journalists working with the independent news website Mada Masr before releasing them on bail. Prosecutors apparently charged Mada Masr Editor-in-Chief Lina Attalah and journalists Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin, and Beesan Kassab with “spreading false news” and defamation against the pro-government Nation’s Future Party. The charges are tied to Mada Masr’s September 1 published report about an unannounced corruption investigation government oversight authorities are allegedly carrying out against senior party members. Attalah also faced the additional charge of establishing a website without a license. This is not the first time authorities have targeted journalists with Mada Masr, one of the last remaining independent news outlets in the country, with prosecution on charges related to their journalism. Since 2017, authorities have blocked access to Mada Masr’s website in Egypt along with hundreds of other websites.
Adam Coogle, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said the following:
“Seeking to silence independent journalists with politicized criminal defamation prosecutions has been a hallmark of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s Egypt. Authorities should immediately drop all charges brought against Mada Masr journalists for their journalism, allow Egyptians to access its website, and end the policy of mass blocking of independent news websites. President al-Sisi’s call for a national dialogue rings hollow if authorities continue to harass and target independent voices with repression.”