Writer and economist Abdel Khalek Farouk was detained on October 21 after publishing a book titled ‘Is Egypt Really a Poor Country?’ that allegedly contained false criticism about Egypt’s economy.
The 61- year-old author has published more than 20 books analyzing Egypt’s economy. His latest book ‘Is Egypt Really a Poor Country?’ was yet to be available to the public. It was confiscated at the publishing house as it was being prepared for print.
The Supreme State Security Prosecutions issued an arrest warrant for both Farouk and the owner of the publishing house, Ibrahim El-Khatib.
After their interrogation on Monday, Farouk and El-Khatib were held in custody at the Shorouk Police Station. However, El-Khatib was released while Farouk’s fait is yet to be determined.
“It contained false information that would affect the national economy,” a security source told Egypt Independent. In the book, Farouk has allegedly analyzed Egypt’s economic crisis and criticized it the country’s policies.
According to Naglaa Ossma, Farouk’s wife, the authorities have informed the economist that he was arrested on the charges of spreading false news through his book.
After the book was seized, Farouk released the book online free of charge in a move that took social media by storm.
Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher, Hussein Baoumi told Middle East Eye that “This seems to be yet another example of the Egyptian authorities’ reacting angrily at anything amounting to disagreement or dissent.”
In March 2018, Egypt’s public prosecution announced hotlines for citizens to report on ‘fake news and rumors’ published on media outlets and social media platforms that ‘aim to disrupt the nation’s security’. Moreover, Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on any news outlets or news containing false information which could be perceived as ‘inciting terrorism’.
Since May 2017, hundreds of news outlets have been blocked in Egypt including Mada Masr, Daily News Egypt and Human Rights Watch. Additionally, some 20 journalists are currently behind bars; including two journalists who were arrested earlier this month in Alexandria.