New York, July 24, 2009--The Committee to Protect
Journalists called on the Egyptian authorities today to explain why they have
detained three bloggers this week without charge.
Islamist blogger Abdel Rahman Ayyash, who writes for Al-Ghareeb (The Stranger), was
arrested at the Cairo airport on Tuesday on his
return from Turkey
where he attended a youth conference, according to multiple news reports. Muslim
Brotherhood member Magdi Saad, who used to blog at Yalla Mesh Mohem (Who Cares),
was also arrested at the airport the same night after returning from a business
trip, according to local news reports. Another Islamist blogger, Ahmad Abu
Khalil, who blogs at Bayarek
(The Lanterns), was arrested when security forces raided his home at dawn on
Wednesday, according to local news reports.
On Thursday, Ayyash was transferred into the custody of State
Security Police in the city of Mansoura, where
he lives, while Saad was taken to State Security Police headquarters in Cairo, Daily
News Egypt reported. Abu Khalil is being held at an unknown location.
"We are concerned about the well-being of these bloggers,"
said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "We call on the authorities to
explain why Abdel Rahman Ayyash, Magdi Saad, and Ahmad Abu Khalil are being
detained. These arrests are but the latest in an ongoing attempt to silence
online journalism in Egypt."
Wael Abbas, a prominent blogger who writes at al-Wa'i al-Masri (Egyptian
Conscience), was held for several hours at the airport when he was returning
on June 30, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported.
ANHRI said that the blogger's laptop was confiscated and has not been returned
In March, CPJ wrote a letter
to President Hosni Mubarak to protest Egypt's campaign of harassment and prosecutions
of bloggers. Egypt
is among the worst places in the world to be a blogger, according to CPJ's special
Worst Countries to be a Blogger." The report found that Egyptian
authorities regularly monitor Web sites and detain critical blogggers.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group,
has been officially banned since 1954.