Egypt: Military arrest Hossam Baghat in clear attack on journalistic freedom

Egypt: Military arrest Hossam Baghat in clear attack on journalistic freedom - Protection

Soldiers patrol Tahrir Square amid wild celebrations the day after Mubarak stepped down. It was rumoured that angry supporters of the old regime were nearby. 25 January 2011 saw the beginning of a nationwide 18 day protest movement that eventually ended the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak and his National Democratic Party.


Hossam Baghat was released on 10 November,  after signing a document that said he would abide by “legal and security procedures” when writing about the military.

Bahgat said he was questioned exclusively about an article he wrote last month, which described the August 2015 conviction of a group of military officers on charges of conspiring with the banned Muslim Brotherhood to plot a coup against Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian president.

Baghat has made a statement saying that his detention was a result of a lawsuit filed by the military intelligence. It remains unclear whether or not he faces charges.

Prominent investigative journalist, Hossam Bahgat, also founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, was summoned by intelligence services on the morning of 8 November, and was subsequently interrogated for 9 hours. By the evening, he had been referred to the military courts who ordered his detention for a further four days.

“It is never appropriate for the military to order the detention of civilians, and it is even more concerning when the individual concerned is a journalist who was investigating matters of public interest;” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19. “The military detention of a journalist is a manifest attack on the freedom of expression, and Baghat must be released immediately.”

Bahgat’s lawyers have stated that this investigation relates solely to his journalistic work, in particular a report published in October on Egyptian news website, Mada Masr, regarding the military.

He has reportedly been charged with €œdeliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest, and publishing, with malicious intent, false news that is likely to disturb public order. It is not known, however, where Bahgat is being detained, or the details of his upcoming trial; he was not allowed to enter the military intelligence headquarters with his phone, and his lawyer was not able to accompany him.

The detention forms part of the increasingly restrictive environment for expression in Egypt, with journalists at frontline, but with further victims from the wider media, the Human Rights community, and the Egyptian public.