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Exiled Egypt journalist Moataz Matar announces his return

December 14, 2021 at 4:37 pm

Moataz Matar, 1 July 2021 [moatazmatar/Twitter]

Exiled Egyptian journalist Moataz Matar has posted a video online, which appears to be in a park in London, announcing that he is back.

Matar once headed a famous political programme, With Moataz, on Turkey’s Al-Sharq channel, one of the most famous opposition channels in the country set up as freedom of expression at home became virtually non-existent.

Some 33,000 Egyptians live in exile in Turkey, which once welcomed them and offered them a safe place to live as then Turkish prime minister and Egyptian president were at odds with each other following the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.

But in April this year Cairo and Ankara agreed to normalise relations after eight years of hostility and as part of the deal, Turkey told the main opposition channels first to calm their criticism of the Egyptian government, before shutting down high-ranking shows.

Mohamed Nasser, Hamza Zawba, Moataz Matar and Hesham Abdalla were asked to axe their programmes and Matar was asked to stop broadcasting on YouTube.

READ: New leaks allegedly prove bribery, corruption among Egypt’s presidential advisers

Journalist Hesham Abdalla was called to the Turkish president’s office for a meeting where he was told that his wife, outspoken political activist Ghada Najibe, must stop posting on social media.

“I am a member of the political opposition, not a bargaining chip or someone to blackmail. I will not give up my freedom, I will defend it until my last breath, no matter the cost,” Najibe wrote on Facebook at the time.

As well as in Turkey, Matar continued to face pressure from authorities back home. In October Egypt’s Zigzag court in Sharqiya sentenced him to 15 years in prison in absentia for contempt of court and joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

In November 2019 Matar and another Egyptian journalist, Hossam Al-Shorbagy who works for the Istanbul-based Meklameen, accused a judge of misusing his judicial authority and position.

Matar was sentenced to ten years in prison and fined for allegedly inciting to overthrow the regime and for spreading false news.

In a tweet posted a day before the video of him in London, Matar wrote: “With God’s blessing, grace and favour, here we are again, a voice for the truth and the oppressed, demanding justice … We are not defeated; we win or die. God is victorious.”