Egyptian authorities arrested journalist Basma Mostafa on Sunday, October 4, when she was traveling to Luxor to cover the alleged murder of a man in a police raid last week.
Basma Mostafa, who works with the news website Al-Manassa, had arrived in Luxor on Saturday. She had informed her colleagues about the security forces following her, following which, contact with her was lost for the next 24 hours. The 30-year-old journalist is a mother to two children.
She was reportedly produced before a prosecutor at the Egyptian state security prosecution in Cairo, and was sent to 15-days judicial custody. Her lawyers were initially unable to learn the charges against her as they were not allowed to attend the investigation, Al-Jazeera reported. However, according to AP news agency, she has been charged with spreading false news and joining a terrorist organization.
UPDATE: State Security Prosecution ordered the detention of journalist Basma Mostafa for 15 days on Sunday pending an investigation, her lawyer Karim Abdelrady told Mada Masr. pic.twitter.com/zm36k5nVKK
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) October 4, 2020
At the time of her arrest, Mostafa was covering the unrest caused by the death of 38-year-old Ewais al-Rawy, who was shot by the police in front of his home in Luxor. She had also covered the death of another man in police custody in Cairo last month. The Al-Manassa website she works for has been banned by the Egyptian authorities for operating without proper permission.
According to Mada Masr, an independent news outlet in Egypt, more than 500 websites have been blocked by the Egyptian authorities citing the same reason. Authorities have also been accused of deliberately delaying processing of applications submitted by most of these websites as a tactic to silence criticism of the government.
The Egyptian government under president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military general who came to power in a coup in 2013, has cracked down on all forms of dissent in the country and arrested dozens of journalists and hundreds of human rights and political activists.
In June, Al-Manassa’s editor Nora Younis was also arrested briefly after a raid on the website’s office. She has been charged with running a website without proper permission.