In a move described by the head of the Journalists Syndicate as “unprecedented” and a “violation of law,” two journalists were arrested by police after security forces reportedly stormed the Syndicate on Sunday night.
According to Yehia Qallash, up to 50 police officers stormed the Syndicate to arrest two journalists who had been staging a sit-in demonstration. The two journalists arrested were identified as Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka. The general prosecution had issued arrest warrants for both journalists on a number of charges that included spreading false information about the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, said Qallash.
At an impromptu press conference outside the Syndicate, Qallash called for the resignation of the Minister of Interior over the “violations”.
However, in a statement released via Facebook, the Ministry of Interior denied Qallash’s account of events, saying that a total of eight police officers had been sent to arrest the two journalists from their homes, where they were not found.
The ministry accused Badr and El-Sakka of “hiding” and using the syndicate as a “safe haven” and capitalizing on the involvement of the syndicate to create a crisis and cause chaos between all parties involved.
The two journalists voluntarily submitted themselves for arrest and their case will be presented to the prosecution, according to the statement.
Amr Badr is the founder of Yanair news website, while Mahmoud El-Sakka works as a journalist for the same organization, reported Ahram.
Qallash has called on an emergency meeting to address the police raid and has called for the intervention of the Egyptian president.
In a statement released through privately-owned newspaper Al-Bedaiah, a group of journalists denounced President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar for Sunday’s “crimes,” saying the incident confirms reports pointing to the deterioration of press conditions under Sisi’s reign.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior ended its statement reaffirming its “appreciation” for journalists and the “national role they fulfill,” as well as the ministry’s “respect for freedom of opinion and expression.”
According to Reuters, 237 people are on trial for protesting against the decision on 25 April. The 25 April protests against Egypt’s recent decision to declare the islands of Tiran and Sanafir as Saudi Arabian were largely scattered and quickly broken up by security forces. While many demonstrations were against the decision, some were held in downtown Cairo in support of President Sisi and the transfer of the islands to Saudi Arabia.