Since his 2013 coup d’etat, the Egyptian authorities have used an array of censorship tools from banning media publications by decree, pressuring media owners and their employees through the security bodies, to directly attacking journalists with investigations and prosecution.
The Public Prosecution and the judicial authorities issued decisions to ban publication in certain cases. For example, in January 2018, the military judiciary banned any publication about the ongoing investigation of Sami Annan, the former Army chief of staff who announced his candidacy to compete with al-Sisi. Annan was arrested and detained by the military.
Arrest and investigation
Dozens of journalists were arrested and became subjects of investigations on the basis of their press work, including:
- photographer Shukan, who was arrested while covering the bloody dispersal of Rabaa sit-in in 2013. Shukan is still behind bars.
- Mohamed El Sayed Saleh, former editor-in-chief of Al Masry Al Youm, was investigated with several journalists from the newspaper before the State Security Prosecution, following a headline published during the presidential election in April 2018. The headline was “The state mobilizes voters in the last days of elections”.
- By the security: several sources confirmed towards the MOM team that owners of newspapers, editors, and renowned television hosts are frequently asked to meet with security and intelligence officials to discuss the content of their broadcasts or articles. But no information is available to confirm this practice and thus it remains impossible to verify.
- By the supreme Council for Media Regulation: since it was created in 2017, the Council for Media Regulation issued various decisions, including stopping programs and investigating TV hosts, fining media outlets and even banning publications for allegedly violating the values of society and the State, and even issuing a decision to prevent homosexuals from appearing in the media.
By the State Information Service (SIS): SIS is mandated to issue permits to foreign correspondents. It has put great pressure on foreign media, led a campaign to boycott the BBC, refrained from issuing permits to some journalists, threatened others and issued statements to protest the foreign media coverage of terrorist attacks or enforced disappearances.
Since May 2017, the Egyptian authorities have been monitoring the internet extensively, and blocked about 100 news websites. Reporters without Borders and the MOM project is among them.
Now, the State, through intelligence agencies and their media acquisitions, ensures censorship is being replaced more and more by self-censorship, coming from within the media structures themselves.
AFTE (2018). AFTE condemns the imprisonment of an editor in chief and the dismissal of another.
AFTE (2018). Q & A on the Supreme Council’s decision to ban publishing on the crisis of hospital 57357
AFTE (2018). “Forces of Evil”: How the authorities targeted journalists during the presidential elections
AFTE (2018). Updated News on detained journalists