The crisis of the arrest of a number of journalists and activists who were protesting the demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia at the Journalists Syndicate escalated on Wednesday evening, as Qasr al-Nil prosecutors started interrogating eight of those arrested, including three journalists.
Syndicate Chairman Abdel Mohsen Salama called for an emergency meeting of the Syndicate’s board to discuss the repercussions of the sit-in and the arrest of participants.
Dozens staged a sit-in at the Journalists Syndicate against the Parliament’s approval of the maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in accordance to which Egypt would hand over Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.
The arrested protesters are Al-Watan newspaper journalist Mohamed Riad, Youm7 journalist Abdel Rahman Mekled, Al-Shorouk newspaper journalist Mahmoud Negm, Hany Mohamed, Mohamed Samir, Mohamed Ahmed, Bassem Tarek, and Mohamed Mostafa.
“I warned of this, and said that everyone has the right to speak on his or her own behalf and to express their views freely. But I refuse to turn the Syndicate into a political platform and to drag it into a dark tunnel and a battle that it has nothing to do with,” Salama told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“Unfortunately, it [syndicate] has become a political platform and some Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar (affiliates) have tried to infiltrate it,” he added.
Salama said he is against turning the Syndicate into a headquarters for activists; adding that, while he respects freedom of expression, it has to come in accordance to “a clear institutional framework”.
Salama denied that the security forces had stormed the headquarters of the syndicate; adding that he had personally made high-level contacts to allow those hiding inside the syndicate to leave without being arrested by the security forces. He said he also mediated for the release of those who had been arrested.
Mahmoud Kamel, a member of the syndicate’s council, recounted the attack on him and his colleagues by the police forces, which besieged the headquarters of the journalists, he said.
“I am fine, thank God, I got minor bruises,” said Kamel, adding that he was beaten by about ten security personnel as he tried to rescue journalist Ahmed Bahgat who was also being beaten.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm