Creating new perspectives since 2009

Egypt: Journalist dies of coronavirus days after release from prison

July 14, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Egyptian journalist Mohamed Mounir died of coronavirus days after being released from an Egyptian jail [Facebook]

The Egyptian journalist Mohamed Mounir has died just days after he was released from prison.

Mounir, editor-in-chief of Al-Diyar, contracted coronavirus whilst incarcerated and displayed typical symptoms of the virus.

He was already suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Mounir died in an isolation unit at the Cairo Hospital, raising fears over the spread of coronavirus inside the overcrowded, unhygienic prison cells.

Several detainees have died over the past few weeks after being infected despite pleas by rights groups to release them.

In June, 65-year-old Mounir was taken from his apartment by plainclothes security officers and remanded in custody on charges of joining a terror organisation, spreading false news and misusing social media.

READ: Prominent writer arrested for sexual assault as Egypt’s #MeToo movement expands

The journalist had criticised the government’s handling of the covid pandemic in an interview with Al Jazeera, which authorities view as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood.

After President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi assumed power in a coup he designated the Brotherhood a terror organisation and imprisoned hundreds of its members.

Under his rule, media freedom has deteriorated.

In the interview, Mounir spoke in support of journalists working for Rose Al-Youssef magazine which published an article criticising bishops for continuing to lead prayers despite instructions to stop amid the spread of the virus.

Security forces had already made one attempt at arresting him which was captured by a camera on his apartment building.

After the raid, Mounir, who was not at home at the time, said they would not stop him from speaking out.

He became the fourth member of the journalists’ union to be arrested at that time as authorities moved to crackdown on freedom of speech amid the coronavirus pandemic.

His arrest was widely criticised by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ.)

Egypt is currently 166 out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders 2020 Press Freedom Index. The CPJ has named Egypt the third worst jailer of journalists worldwide.

READ: At least 50m jobs lost in Arab countries due to pandemic