The Cairo-based Rassd News Network has condemned the latest intimidation by the coup government which has seen the killing and arbitrary arrests of journalists, including of five of its own correspondents. The network's Executive Director, Samihi Mustafa, and founding member Dr Abdullah Al-Fakharani are among those detained by the authorities since the start of the bloody campaign against anti-coup demonstrators.
According to Rassd, neither Al-Fakharani nor Mustafa, the father of a new-born boy, were armed when they were arrested. "They were only armed with the truth about what is going on out there," said a spokesperson. "Professional journalists are attempting to break the media blackout imposed by the coup authorities and government-controlled media on what is happening in Egypt." Freedom of expression, it was pointed out, is a basic human right.
Describing a "savage and vengeful" campaign of arrests, the spokesperson said that the government is targeting Rassd journalists after killing photographer Musaab Al-Shami while he was covering the violent assault on Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square. He was shot in the head and chest by soldiers. Rassd correspondents Mahmoud Abdul-Nabi and his brother Ibrahim, both professional journalists, were arrested in Alexandria at the start of the coup. Both men are on hunger strike in protest at the conditions under which they are being held by the authorities.
Rassd not only condemned the killing, arrest and harassment of its staff but also holds the Egyptian coup government fully responsible for the safety and well-being of those in detention. It demanded their immediate release.
"We will not give up in our efforts to protect human rights and the right of journalists to carry out their work unimpeded by the brutal acts of the security forces," said the Rassd spokesperson. "We will use all legal means to defend them and to hold accountable those responsible for their illegal detention."
The network insists that it remains committed to the professional ethics of journalism, including accuracy, balance, independence and integrity, to convey the truth as it is without any bias or distortion. Rassd appealed to all colleagues in the profession, international press associations and human rights organisations to stand by all detained journalists, to press for their release, and to ensure their right to work without threats or harassment.