Egyptian journalist allegedly tortured, current location unknown - CPJ

Thursday 03-03-2016 07:10 PM

Rally outside the Press Syndicate. (ASWAT MASRIYA/ Jihad Abaza)

CAIRO, Mar 3 (Aswat Masriya) - An Egyptian journalist has been allegedly tortured in custody after security forces arrested  him from his home in the Damietta province more than 10 days ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Thursday.

Sabry Anwar, who works at the privately-owned El Badil newspaper, was reportedly arrested at dawn on Feb. 21 as "masked security agents wearing civilian clothes and police uniforms" raided his home, seized some equipment and arrested the reporter, according to his wife Heba al-Khedry.

After four days of searching across local police stations, al-Khedry was able to find her husband at a nearby police station accompanied by lawyers.

Following al-Khedry's meeting with Anwar, the head of investigations at the Kafr al-Bateekh police station  later denied he was in custody there, despite having told them earlier that Anwar was due to appear before prosecutors, CPJ reported.

Egypt's press syndicate filed a complaint on Feb. 29 to the Prosecutor General, requesting  information about Anwar's whereabouts amid fears that he might have been subjected to torture as mentioned by news reports.

Editor at El Badil newspaper, Karim Saeed, told CPJ that Anwar has been a correspondent with El Badil for almost one year, covering local news in the Damietta province. He wrote pieces about negligence in public hospitals prior to his arrest.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)  demanded the announcement of Anwar's place of detention and charges against him or his immediate release.

Close acquaintances of the correspondent denied that Anwar was affiliated with any political current or group, ANHRI stated

The rights group expressed its fear for Anwar's life amid a rise in enforced disappearances recently.

Local and international human rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern about an increase in reported cases of “enforced disappearance” and torture. The World Report 2016 issued by Human Rights Watch in January said Egyptian police "officers were responsible for dozens of enforced disappearances, often targeting political activists." 

According to the UN definition, "enforced disappearance" is a term that applies to "persons who are arrested, detained or abducted against their will ... by officials in different branches or levels of government ... followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law." 

But the Egyptian interior ministry has denied, on a number of occasions, the existence of any cases of enforced disappearance or torture. 

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