Egyptian courts renew detention of four journalists for 15 days
Egyptian journalists and photographers protest in front of their syndicate in Cairo on 30 September 2014 demanding the release of their detained colleagues. (AFP/File)
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An Egyptian criminal court renewed the detention of journalist Mahmoud al-Saqqa and three others for 15 days on charges of publishing "false" news related to the disputed islands of Tiran and Sanafir.
The four defendants, who are accused of inciting protests, attempting to overthrow the regime and broadcasting false news with the aim of disturbing public peace, challenged the decision but the court rejected their appeal.
Saqqa was arrested last May along with another journalist Amr Badr, who was charged on the same case but was released last week on bail EGP5,000 pending investigation.
The two journalists were arrested on May 1 after security forces raided the press syndicate's headquarters on accusations of "inciting protests" against an Egyptian-Saudi agreement that saw Egypt handing control over two strategic Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia.
The agreement was signed at a time when Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz was on his first official visit to Cairo in April.
It has stirred controversy since then with critics accusing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of "selling Egypt" to Saudi Arabia in return for aid.
Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in rare protests on April 15 and April 25, amid a police campaign of mass arrests of activists opposed to the islands' transfer.
In June, the administrative court annulled the agreement and affirmed that the two islands fall within Egypt's borders.
The Egyptian government maintains that both islands belong to Saudi Arabia and challenged the annulment of the agreement before the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Constitutional Court.