Journalists protest outside press syndicate on May 2, 2016 after police raided the syndicate's headquarters and arrested two journalists on May 1. Photo by Mostafa Bassiouny
CAIRO, May 2 (Aswat Masriya) - Egyptian prosecutors ordered on Monday the detention of two journalists arrested from inside press syndicate, 15 days pending investigation.
Journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud al-Sakka,were arrested after security forces stormed the syndicate’s headquarters on Sunday, in what the press syndicate described in a statement earlier today as “unprecedented”.
The prosecution accused the two journalists of inciting protests, attempting to overthrow the regime and broadcasting false news with the aim of disturbing public peace.
According to lawyer Sameh Samir, who was present in defence of the journalists, the investigations were “inaccurate” and that both journalists denied accusations levelled against them.
Following the storming of the syndicate and the arrest of both journalists, the press syndicate demanded the sacking of the Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar and called for an emergency general assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss the incident.
Interior Ministry, however, denied storming the syndicate's building or using force to arrest the two journalists. A ministry statement on Monday said that the journalists handed themselves in and that all the arrest procedures took place within the framework of the law.
Dozens of journalists organised on Sunday a sit-in at the press syndicate to protest the police raid of the building.
In a statement published on Facebook, several journalists announced the start of the sit-in and held " President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi responsible for this unprecedented crime, which is considered a flagrant assault on the freedom of the press, aimed at stopping journalists from exposing the regime’s crimes of killing, detaining and torturing thousands of Egyptians, and selling the islands of Tiran and Sanafir.”
In a controversial agreement last month, Egyptian government agreed to cede sovereignty over two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia. Critics of the agreement argue that the two islands are Egyptian and accuse Al-Sisi of "selling Egypt" to Saudi Arabia in return for financial aid.
The signing of the agreement prompted several political factions and public figures to call on people to protest on Apr. 25 in front of the press syndicate.
Days ahead of the planned protests, the interior ministry launched a mass arrest campaign and raided a number of cafes in Downtown Cairo.
On the day of the protests, the interior ministry cordoned off the area of the press syndicate and banned people from gathering.