CAIRO, 26 February 2021 – The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) has challenged Egypt to live up to the standards of democracy in which press freedom prevails.
“Egypt… portrays itself as a democracy, but authorities’ actions belie that characterization more with each passing day,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said Thursday.
The CPJ statement was issued in solidarity with Sherif Mansour, the Washington-based head of CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program, his family, and all those defending human rights and press freedom in Egypt.
“Judicial hostage-taking of critics abroad, and threats to overseas family members of those jailed at home, are the hallmark of a dictatorship,” the statement read in part.
“We call on Egyptian authorities to drop these ludicrous accusations against Sherif Mansour and his relatives,” the statement continued.
Mansour’s cousin, Reda Abdelrahman, was detained on August 22 and, according to Mansour, neither his family nor lawyers were able to contact him for the next 44 days.
Abdelrahman is due in court in Egypt next March 2 after repeated posponements of his pre-trial hearings.
He has been charged with belonging to an unnamed terrorist organization.
Prosecutors allege that Mansour and his father, Ahmed Sobhy Mansour, who also lives in the United States, are members of the unnamed organization.
Mansour and his father have said the allegations are absurd.
Human Rights Watch has joined Mansour in charging that Egypt is targeting the families of human rights defenders and political activists abroad with sweeping, unsubstantiated terrorism charges.
The rights group, also based in New York, says Egyptian authorities are using this strategy to intimidate those targeted into silence.
Egypt has also been accused of arbitrarily detaining critics.
With a total of 27 journalists behind bars, Egypt had the highest number of journalists in prison of all Middle East and North African as of December 1, 2020, according to CPJ research.