Egypt arrested a prominent journalist and human rights advocate on Sunday after he was questioned by military intelligence over a report he published about a trial of former army officers, security sources said.
They said Hossam Bahgat was summoned over charges of publishing false information in his October report about the 26 officers he said had been convicted by a military court of plotting a coup.
Amnesty International said Bahgat’s arrest was a clear signal of the determination of Egyptian authorities “to continue with their ferocious onslaught against independent journalism and civil society”.
Human rights groups accuse President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as military chief deposed a freely elected Islamist president in 2013, of exploiting security threats to roll back political freedoms won in the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
“The arrest of Hossam Bahgat today is yet another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression in Egypt,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Bahgat founded the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), an independent human rights organisation. Nearly three weeks ago he wrote about the military trial for the online news site Mada Masr.
The security sources said Bahgat received a summons last week to report for questioning on Sunday. After being questioned he was arrested and transferred to the military prosecutor, they said.