Egyptian Journalist Karim Asaad was arrested by authorities after his fact-checking service published articles accusing officials of involvement in smuggling cash, weapons and gold to Zambia.
Reports say Asaad was apprehended at his home in Greater Cairo early Saturday following questioning over coverage of the case.
The arrest came alongside a breach of Matsada2sh’s publishing accounts which followed the platform’s publication of information on the alleged identities of five of six Egyptian nationals arrested in Zambia last week onboard a now-impounded private jet carrying cash, counterfeit gold and weapons.
His arrest brings the number of arrested journalists in the Arab world’s most populous nation to 24.
A statement from the Independent website Matsada2sh reads, “Our colleague was arrested after security forces dressed in civilian clothes stormed his home” at 1:00 am on Saturday. They physically assaulted his wife, threatened their young child, raided the apartment, and then led him away, forcefully disappeared, to an undisclosed location.”
The statement also revealed that “before his arrest, the only questions the assailants asked our colleague were related to our breaking coverage of the Zambia-Egypt plane story”.
What Egyptian journalists are doing
The syndicate of Egyptian journalists have called on authorities to “free” Asaad and to “disclose his current location”.
Journalists Syndicate head Khaled al-Balshy announced on Sunday that Karim Asaad, a journalist working for the independent fact-checking platform Matsad2sh, was released from detention on Sunday.
He said that he had communicated with the “competent authorities” who had responded to the syndicate’s request.
What you need to know
Independent Egyptian journalists have published documents allegedly from the Zambian probe that name Egyptian suspects in the case, including army and police officers on social media.
Matsada2sh said its staff and social media pages have been “subjected to a coordinated attack” since the plane report.
It further added that two posts “related to our coverage” of the case “in which senior Egyptian government officials were involved” were deleted from Facebook. We hold the Egyptian government responsible for the safety and well-being of our team.”
Matsada2sh whose Arabic name translates into “Don’t believe”, was founded in London in 2018 by the late Egyptian journalist Mohamed Aboul Gheit.
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