Egypt arrests editor-in-chief of prominent independent news site

Egypt arrests editor-in-chief of prominent independent news site”

A prominent investigative media outlet in Egypt said security forces have detained its editor-in-chief in the latest arrest amid a wider crackdown on dissent.

Lina Attalah, the editor-in-chief of the website Mada Masr, was arrested outside Tora prison in the south of Cairo while interviewing the mother of a jailed activist attempting to bring medication and hand sanitiser to her son.

"The prison security guards asked Attallah to show her identification card and later called her in for an investigation that lasted three hours", lawyer Hassan al-Azhari told AFP. She will remain in police custody and will be referred to prosecution tomorrow for questioning.

Attalah has been transferred to the Maadi police station.

Abdel Fattah served a five-year prison sentence for violating Egypt's protest ban.

Plainclothes security officials raided Mada Masr's offices last November and Attalah was detained.

Mada Masr is one of the hundreds of websites blocked by the Egyptian government in recent years.

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VPNs and other mirror sites are often used to bypass the block.

This comes amid what activists are calling an unprecedented crackdown on press freedom and freedom of expression in Egypt.

"Since 2016, the authorities in Egypt have subjected dozens of journalists and other media workers to a catalogue of violations just for doing their jobs or expressing their views".

On Sunday, the Committee to Protect Journalists called for Attallah's release.

Timothy Kaldas, of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and a longtime friend of Attalah, said: "Lina's arrest is yet another example of Egypt's persistent assault on journalists". Earlier this month a local journalist and a freelance photographer were arrested on charges of joining and financing a "terrorist group" as well as spreading "fake news" that threatens national security.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says at least 29 journalists are being held in jail in Egypt, which ranks 166 out of 180 countries in its 2020 world press freedom index.

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