Four reporters are facing slander, defamation and fake news charges after accusing the largest political party in Egypt’s parliament of corruption.
The female journalists belong to an independent media organisation known as Mada Masr.
The group has been blocked in the country since 2017 and can only be accessed through the use of a virtual private network.
The four women – Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin and Beesan Kassab, and editor in chief Lina Attalah – were summoned to court following complaints from the Nation’s Future political party.
It came after an after an article was published by Mada Masr accusing the party of “serious financial infractions” that “should lead to their departure from the political scene”.
The journalists were released on bail on Wednesday, 7th August, according to local media reports.
This was after they were interrogated simultaneously and separately at the Cairo Appeals Prosecution in Egypt’s capital city, according to a statement Newsflash obtained from Mada Masr on the same day.
Attalah, 39, is up for a further charge – operating a website without a license.
This is despite the fact that the independent media organisation has made numerous attempts to acquire an official press license since 2018, according to the statement.
The organisation added: “Mada Masr has attempted since 2018 to obtain licensing under the new law regulating the press, submitting paperwork on multiple occasions, making official inquiries into the status of the application and attempting to contact officials at the press regulatory authority.
“Until now, Mada Masr has received no response regarding its legal status.
“According to the law, the Supreme Media Regulatory Council must notify the sites or entities that are refused a license or have not completed the necessary documents.”
65 000 political prisoners are estimated to be in prison in Egypt, according the to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, along with 21 journalists who are currently in jail, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
This comes just before news of a British Egyptian activist known as Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s who has been on hunger strike in prison for six months leading up to the Cop27 climate conference and has warned his family he may die in jail.
One of the demands included on the imprisoned activist’s list is the release of thousands of prisoners held without charge in pre-trial detention by Egyptian security forces.