Egypt government sends journalist strategy memo to... journalists: report

Published May 3rd, 2016 - 11:03 GMT
A protest in Egypt over the arrest and detainment of journalists. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)
A protest in Egypt over the arrest and detainment of journalists. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

The Egyptian government appears to have mistakenly sent a controversial memo detailing its strategy for dealing with critical journalists to — journalists. 

The apparent blunder occurred when the public relations department of Egypt’s Interior Ministry sent a memo titled “Media response to security raid on Journalists Syndicate headquarters” to a group of journalists, according to Mada Masr, an independent Egyptian news site. 

The memo referred to a raid that occurred Sunday when about 40 Egyptian police officers reportedly stormed the Cairo offices of the Journalists’ Syndicate and arrested Amr Badr and Mahmud el-Sakka, two journalists who work for the opposition website Bawabet Yanayer, which means “January Gate” in English.

"January Gate" refers to Egypt’s revolution of Jan. 25, 2011, which overthrew long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak; the outlet has criticized the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.  

The memo mentioned several journalists by name who it said were “escalating” the conflict with the ministry, Mada Masr reported. 

“[The Ministry] cannot retreat from its position now, because to retreat would mean a mistake had been made, and if there was one, who would be responsible and who would be held accountable?" the memo read. 

You can read the memo here

Egyptian officials denied that the raid occurred, but confirmed to Al Jazeera that the two journalists had indeed been detained.

Egypt’s state-run paper Al-Ahram condemned the raid in a fierce editorial on Tuesday, saying the Ministry will “not succeed in its pernicious goals of shutting up mouths and repressing freedoms of opinion and expression.”  

The watchdog organization Freedom House has said that freedom of the press in Egypt has declined since Sisi rose to power in 2014. The Sisi government has sought to purge critical voices from Egypt's press corps, the organization says.

—Hunter Stuart

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