Police raid press syndicate, arrest journalists in Cairo

Egyptian police arrest two journalists after raid on press syndicate in Cairo.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Egyptian journalists hold up their cameras outside the Egyptian press syndicate in downtown Cairo, Egypt April 28, 2016, during a protest against the interior minister following the arrest of colleagues for covering anti-government demonstrations.

Press syndicate in Cairo was raided by Egyptian police on Sunday and two journalists critical of the government, Amr Badr and Mahmud el Sakka, were arrested. 

"This is unprecedented, no president or prime minister or interior minister has ever dared to do something like this," Mahmoud Kamel, a member of the syndicate board said, adding, only prosecutor is allowed to search the union in the presence of its chairman or deputy.

Security forces have taken a hard stance against also dissidents since thousands took the streets on April 15 to protest President Abdel Fattah el Sisi’s decision that handed over two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia.

The interior ministry denied that officers had stormed the press labour union building, but confirmed some of its members had arrested the journalists inside the syndicate.

Syndicate officials said journalists held inside the union on Sunday when officers arrested two of them working for the opposition website Bawabet Yanayer including its editor.

"The incident is true and at the very least the interior minister (Ahmed al Zind) has to be fired and there needs to be an apology," a syndicate board member Khalid al Balshy said.

Journalists and activists protest against the restriction of press freedom and to demand the release of detained journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt April 26, 2016. (Reuters)

Kamel said over 40 policemen raided the building but the interior ministry said its force consisted of only eight officers.

"The ministry affirms that it did not raid the syndicate or use any kind of force in arresting the two journalists who handed themselves in as soon as they were told there was an arrest warrant," the interior ministry said in a statement.

A security guard was wounded in the eye when police raided the union, Kamel said.

"There was an arrest warrant for the two journalists issued a week ago but the syndicate was negotiating with the interior ministry over the matter," he said.

The syndicate called for an indefinite strike among Egyptian journalists and urged to black out their front pages until the interior minister resigns.

Dozens of journalists later held a new sit-in at the syndicate to protest against the arrest, a reporter said.

TRTWorld and agencies