New York, NY– One of Egypt’s most well-known and respected investigative journalists and human rights defenders, Hossam Bahgat, was detained by the Egyptian military on November 8 and remains in custody. He was questioned, without legal counsel, about an article he wrote about the secret military trial of 26 officers convicted of plotting a coup in coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood. The military prosecutor is charging him with “publishing inaccurate and false information that harms national interests.” The International Women’s Health Coalition today joined human rights activists around the world in calling for his immediate release.
“Hossam Bahgat is one of the most dedicated and courageous journalists working in Egypt today,” said Françoise Girard, the Coalition’s President. “Hossam’s arrest is a blatant disregard of freedom of expression and due process. ”
Bahgat founded one of Egypt’s premier human rights organizations, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). The staff of the International Women’s Health Coalition worked closely with Mr. Bahgat during his time at EIPR.
Last year, Bahgat left EIPR and joined Mada Masr, an online news site, where he researched and published a series of articles concerning the army and military trials, based on official documents and interviews with the military officers’ families.
The charges facing Mr. Bahgat are the latest in a series of government attempts to thwart the work of human rights activists and independent civil society organizations. The International Women’s Health Coalition and other human rights groups see this not only as a violation of one man’s freedom of speech, but as a clear signal that the Egyptian government is determined to repress dissent and clamp down on independent journalism. Countless other journalists in Egypt have faced intimidation, harassments and arrests in recent years. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Egypt is obligated to uphold freedom of expression.
The International Women’s Health Coalition has sent a letter to the Obama Administration urging them to intervene on behalf of Mr. Bahgat.