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Independent journalist arrested in Egypt

Beth SchumacherNovember 9, 2015

Hossam Bahgat has been arrested on charges of publishing false reports against the military. His detention has heightened fears over the state of free expression in Egypt.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/I. Langsdon

Hossam Bahgat, a prominent human rights advocate and journalist, was arrested in Egypt on Sunday, security officials said. According to Mada Masr, the website Bahgat writes for, the 37-year-old is being held on charges of publishing false information under a new law which has sparked intense fear over the future of press freedom in Egypt.

"The arrest of Hossam Bahgat today is yet another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression in Egypt," said Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa chief Philip Luther.

"The Egyptian military cannot continue to consider itself above the law and immune from criticism," Luther added.

The charges stem from an October report Bahgat filed about 26 military officers who had been convicted in a court martial for plotting a coup against the state.

Security officials confirmed the arrest, saying Bahgat was given a summons last week to report for questioning on Sunday. Following the interrogation, he was arrested and transferred to the jurisdiction of the military prosecutor.

Bahgat was also the founder of the independent organization the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). Human Rights Watch also condemned the incarceration of the "leading defender of civil rights and liberties in Egypt."

Human rights groups have consistently accused Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of exploiting a fragile security situation in Egypt to revoke personal freedoms won in 2011 with the overthrow of former dictator Hosni Mubarak. Al-Sisi himself came to power when the democratically elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was deposed in 2013.

Morsi, the first democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history, is now on death row for his role in a prison break during the 2011 revolution.