ANHRI: The Public Prosecutor must stand up to the security forces’ encroachments and release photojournalist Hamdy Al-Zaeim

6 January, 2021

Cairo: 6 January 2021

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today that the security services have started the new year by trampling over the Constitution and the law through continuing their police crackdown, the last victim of which is photojournalist Hamdy Mokhtar AKA “Hamdy Al-Zaeim” who was arrested from his house at dawn yesterday to terrorize his family before he was taken to an unknown location, which so far hasn’t been disclosed.

ANHRI added that the security forces were not satisfied by the series of abuses photojournalist Hamdy Al-Zaeim has been subjected to for 5 years as he was on police probation (precautionary measures) for more than 3 years after the criminal court ordered, in June 2018, to replace his pretrial detention with probationary release pending Case No. 15060 of 2016 Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanors, in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Entering the vicious circle once again, the security forces have decided to arrest and forcibly disappear Al-Zaeim.

In a dawn raid, a group of security personnel stormed yesterday the house of photojournalist Hamdy Al-Zaeim and smashed his belongings before taking him to an unknown location. He hasn’t yet appeared before any investigating authority and neither him nor his family have been informed of the reasons for his arrest or even his whereabouts in violation of the Constitution.

ANHRI wondered “How long will the Public Prosecutor remain silent about the crimes committed by Egypt’s security apparatuses, including the arrest and intimidation of citizens in violation of Article 54 of the Constitution, while he is the person primarily responsible for law enforcement?”

It is noteworthy that photojournalist Hamdy Al-Zaeim was previously arrested while making a press report on the headscarf in front of the Journalists Syndicate in September 2016. He was then referred to Central Cairo Prosecution for investigation into Case No. 15060 of 2016 Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanors on charges of: “joining a terrorist group, promoting its views and goals on social media, disseminating false news and information, possessing recorded footage to be used for spreading false news and information, and inciting unauthorized protests”. Consequently, he had been held in remand detention for two years before the criminal court decided to replace his detention with precautionary measures, which had been ongoing until he was arrested yesterday.

ANHRI called on the Public Prosecutor to order the release of Hamdi Al-Zaeim and to hold accountable those responsible for his abduction and unlawful detention, in accordance with Article 280 of the Penal Code, which states that: “whoever arrests, confines, or detains a person without an order from one of the concerned judges/ ruling governors, and in other than the cases wherein the laws and statutes authorize the arrest of suspects, shall be punished with imprisonment or a fine”.