Middle East

Global rights groups call for release of veteran journalist arrested in Egypt

Authorities in Egypt arrested Tawfiq Ghanem on May 21, says his laywer

13.06.2021
Global rights groups call for release of veteran journalist arrested in Egypt

ANKARA 

Global rights watchdogs have called for the release of journalist Tawfiq Ghanem, a former regional director of Anadolu Agency who was arrested in May.

“#Egypt: authorities arrested Toufic Ghanem, 66, a retired journalist, on 21 May, forcibly disappeared him for days & questioned him about his previous work at @anadoluagency,” Amnesty MENA wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

“RT to urge @AlSisiOfficial to release him & till then ensure his access to family, lawyer & healthcare,” the rights group added, tagging the Twitter handle of country’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi .

Earlier this month, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also released a statement over the arrest of Ghanem.

Citing his lawyer, the statement said that Ghanem, 65, was arrested on May 21 by the Egyptian state security forces.

“Authorities arrested Ghanem from his home in Giza, and also confiscated his phone and laptop, according to those sources,” it added.

“Once in custody, police questioned Ghanem about his previous journalistic work, his political views, and specifically interrogated him about Anadolu’s methods of news gathering and its coverage of Egyptian politics while he was regional director, his lawyer said,” the statement said.

“On May 26, prosecutors charged Ghanem with membership in a terrorist group and ordered him to be held in pretrial detention for 15 days,” according to his lawyer.

According to CPJ’s prison census, as of Dec. 1, 2020, Egypt held at least 27 journalists in prison for their work.

On May 28, New York-based Human Rights Watch also called for Ghanem’s release.

“His family said that the authorities then moved him to an undisclosed location where they fear that he has no access to needed medication,” a Human Rights Watch statement said.

Citing Joe Stork, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Human Rights Watch, the statement said: “Tawfik Ghanem’s arrest and enforced disappearance on May 21 shows that Egypt’s crackdown against journalists continues unabated.”

“President al-Sisi’s government should immediately release Ghanem and end this pattern of arbitrarily detaining people for their opinions,” Stork added.

Last week, Ghanem's family said he was arrested despite being retired from journalism six years ago.

On May 26, he was brought before the State Security Prosecution in the east of Cairo and was "charged with joining a terrorist group and was held in pretrial detention for 15 days pending further investigation."

An Egyptian, Tawfiq Ghanem has worked for over 30 years in the field of journalism. He served as Anadolu Agency's regional director between 2012 and 2015 until his retirement.​​​​​​​

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