A report on Saturday by an Egyptian civil society organization, the Arab Media Freedom Monitor, reveals that Egypt charged 17 journalists and media workers with producing false news about the country’s response to the Covid-19 epidemic.

The monitor wrote, “This is the latest in a long line of attacks on Egyptian media workers abroad that have included placing myriad of them on a travel ban and terrorism lists, as well as refusing to renew their passports.”

“The accusations do not just cover traditional publishing crimes,” the monitor added. “Another criminal charge was added by the prosecution, which is said to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s media committee’s formation.”

The following journalists have been indicted: Hamza Zobaa, head of the Association of Egyptian Media Workers Abroad as well as journalists from Mekameleen TV and Al-Sharq TV.

After releasing a series of high-profile leaks aimed at coup leaders in 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Mekameleen TV rose to prominence. It is seen as a crucial platform for Sisi’s opponents by many. 

On April 30, the Mekameleen offices in Turkey were closed amid warming ties between Ankara and Cairo. According to a publication by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed a sister website to The New Arab, an unnamed diplomatic source claimed that as part of talks to resume diplomatic ties between Egypt and Turkey, Egyptian authorities requested that all opposition media in Turkey be shut down.

Egypt is one of the world’s most repressive countries for media freedom since the 2013 military takeover, which ushered in the election of military strongman Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as president. More than 500 local and international news sources and websites were blocked in Egypt, including The New Arab and Human Rights Watch.

The annual World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Across Borders, which ranks countries by their press freedom records and trends, placed Egypt at number 168 (out of 180) in 2022.

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