Last week, journalist Hussein Abdel Halim helped produce a series of blistering news reports that alleged corruption amongst the Egyptian security apparatus. This weekend, Abdel Halim was arrested, according to Egypt’s Ministry of the Interior.
The announcement, made on the ministry’s Facebook page, said that the reporter was taken in on a routine sweep of wanted fugitives. Police laid out charges against Abdel Halim stretching back to 2003, including fraud, theft, bribery and drug allegations.
The post also noted the journalist’s recent reporting for the privately owned newspaper Al Dostour, which translates to “the constitution.” The ministry announced that authorities would launch an investigation into the newspaper’s accusations.
Abdel Halim’s hard-hitting reports over the last week described bribe-taking and sexual harassment at police checkpoints and “inhumane” conditions in prisons. On April 8, a story on the newspaper’s front page alleged that the government was engaged in a cover-up.
Since Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power in a 2013 coup, Egyptian journalists have suffered drastic constrictions of press freedoms and free speech rights, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international advocacy group.
In a March letter to al-Sisi, the CPJ wrote that at least nine journalists had been imprisoned in relation to their work. Among the most notable arrests have been three reporters detained in 2013 from Al Jazeera. Two are currently out on bail and the third was deported to his native Australia. Another six journalists have been killed since the massive protests that toppled al-Sisi’s predecessor Mohamed Morsi, the CPJ wrote.
In broader civil society, the government of al-Sisi has presided over increasingly repressive speech restrictions and police powers. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have reportedly been arrested over their political affiliations.
The Ministry’s announcement concluded by reaffirming the government’s respsect for the media, but ended with a call for the Egyptian press to “carefully choose their reporters.”