Prosecution orders media gag on journalists' arrest case

Tuesday 03-05-2016 08:44 PM

Previous protest in front of the press syndicate, on Apr. 28, 2016. ASWAT MASRIYA / Asmaa Gamal

CAIRO, May 3 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt’s top prosecutor ordered on Tuesday a media gag on the case dubbed in the media as the "Press Syndicate raid", which relates to the arrest of two journalists at the syndicate's headquarters.

Security forces had raided the building to arrest Amr Badr and Mahmoud al-Sakka, in what the syndicate described as an "unprecedented" incident.

Badr is the editor of Yanair gate, a news portal which is considered critical of the government, and Saqqa works for the same website.

They had said in April that prosecutors issued a warrant to arrest them and stormed their homes several times.

Public prosecution had ordered the two journalists' arrest over accusations that included inciting protests, attempting to overthrow the regime and broadcasting false news with the aim of disturbing public peace. 

They were sitting in at the syndicate's headquarters when the police raided it and arrested them.

The gagging order is in place until the investigation into the incident is complete. Only statements issued by the public prosecutor’s office are excluded, the prosecution said in a statement on Tuesday.

The head of the Press Syndicate Yehia Qallash told a press conference on Tuesday that the syndicate will continue to escalate against the interior ministry until the current minister, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, is removed.

Qallash said the syndicate has filed an official complaint with the prosecution against the interior minister and the head of the Cairo security directorate against the security forces' raid on the syndicate.

The syndicate said in a statement on Monday that about 40 security personnel “stormed” the syndicate and assaulted the two people tasked with securing the syndicate’s building.

The interior ministry, however, denied earlier on Monday storming the building or using force to arrest the two journalists, saying that Badr and Saqqa handed themselves over to the police “once they were informed of the arrest warrant" that had been issued for them.

Similarly, the prosecution's Tuesday statement, in which it declared that a gag was ordered, says that the police were only executing the law and abiding by the constitution when they arrested Badr and Saqqa.

The Press Syndicate's board called for an emergency general assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss the incident and demanded the sacking of the interior minister.   

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