Egyptian journalist union attacks government on press freedom

Cairo, May 3 (IANS/AKI) Egypt’s press syndicate on Tuesday accused the government of “escalating its war against journalists” after the arrest at the weekend of two reporters during police raids on the union’s offices here.

“Today – World Press Freedom Day – we should be celebrating, but someone holding the reins of power wants it to be a day of mourning,” press syndicate chief Yehia Qalash said on Tuesday.

Twenty-nine journalists are currently in jail in Egypt due to their profession, he said.

“Instead of taking concrete action to resolve this situation, the government is suddenly escalating its war against the press and journalists who belong to unions.”

Journalists in Cairo on Tuesday held a sit-in at the press syndicate, where black flags flew at half mast to protest Sunday’s unprecedented storming of the building by security forces and the arrests of Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka amid a crackdown on press freedom.

Badr and El-Sakka were questioned by prosecutors on Monday and detained for 15 days pending investigations. They are accused of spreading false news, inciting the public, and plotting to overthrow the regime, pro-government daily Al-Ahram reported on its website Tuesday.

Al-Ahrahm published an editorial in its Tuesday edition that sharply criticised Egypt’s interior ministry over Sunday’s raids and arrests.

Badr is editor-in-chief and founder of Yanair (January) news portal, and El-Sakka works for the same website, according to Al-Ahram.

–IANS/AKI

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