Mada Masr, one of the few independent news websites in Egypt as their number shrinks, said Shady Zalat, 37, was arrested from his home in Cairo early on Saturday. Police raided his apartment without showing an arrest warrant, the outlet added.
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In a statement, Mada Masr said plain-clothed police told Zalat‘s wife that he was being taken to the Giza police headquarters.
But the outlet said it has been unable to confirm where Zalat is being held, and demanded his release.
“Shady has been working at Mada Masr as an editor since 2014,” the outlet’s statement said. “He has done nothing more than use words to report the news.”
“We hold Egyptian authorities responsible for his safety and well being and call for his immediate and unconditional release,” the statement added.
— ℝ𝕠𝕤𝕚𝕖 𝕊𝕔𝕒𝕞𝕞𝕖𝕝𝕝 (@rosiescammell) November 23, 2019
There was no immediate comment from the authorities.
This is a significant escalation against the last bastion of free speech in Egypt. For years, Mada has managed to resist massive pressure from the state – partly, we believe, because of its high international profile. https://t.co/8dxnwhX5XA
— Omar Hamilton (@ORHamilton) November 23, 2019
Zalat’s arrest came after Mada Masr published an article last week alleging that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi‘s son Mahmoud had been transferred to Moscow on a diplomatic posting.
His reassignment from a senior intelligence post came after he had been criticised internally within the security apparatus, Mada Masr reported.
The article, which cited unnamed Emirati and Egyptian officials, gave details about the country’s security agencies at a time when press freedoms in Egypt are shrinking.
Shady zalat, a journalist in Mada Masr, was abducted from his home a few hours ago. His laptop, his wife's laptop as well as his mobile were all confiscated.
Shady is in danger .. we must all speak up for him#شادي_زلط_فين#الصحافة_مش_جريمة https://t.co/xQPHM9ODM4
— Mona Seif (@Monasosh) November 23, 2019
Egypt has arrested at least 4,000 people since September amid a sweeping crackdown following rare anti-government protests.
Mada Masr is one of the hundreds of websites blocked by the Egyptian government in recent years.
Egypt jails more journalists than any other country after China and Turkey, according to the New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists.