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Egypt police raid news outlet after journalist arrest

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PHOTO: DW

Egyptian news outlet Mada Masr said Sunday security forces had raided their Cairo offices a day after one of its editors was arrested.

“Plainclothes security forces have raided Mada Masr’s office in Cairo. Staff are currently being held inside, and their phones have been switched off,” the independent news site posted on Twitter.

The raid comes after Shady Zalat, 37, a news editor who has worked since 2014 at the prominent website was arrested from his home on Saturday.

Mada Masr publishes investigations into corruption and security issues in Arabic and English.

It published an explosive article last week alleging that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s son Mahmoud had been transferred to Moscow on a diplomatic posting.

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His re-assignment from a senior intelligence post came after he had been criticised internally within the security apparatus, Mada Masr reported.

The article, which cited unnamed Emirati and Egyptian officials, gave details about the country’s security agencies at a time when press freedoms in Egypt are shrinking.

A journalist from Mada Masr speaking from outside the news site’s building told AFP on Sunday that police officers were still inside.

He described seeing several vehicles belonging to security forces and was met by plainclothes police officers at the entrance of the building.

“They initially prevented me from entering then they took me up to the sixth floor, where the office is. We knocked on the door and I saw my colleagues for a fraction of a second,” he said.

“A policeman, also plainclothed, said we don’t want anyone coming or going and I was let go,” he added.

The journalist said he would be returning with a lawyer later.

Egypt jails more journalists than any other country behind China and Turkey, according to New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists.

Mada Masr is one of hundreds of websites blocked by Egyptian authorities in recent years and can only be accessed domestically via a virtual private network (VPN) application.


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