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Egyptian Journalist Detained Over Coverage of Seized Plane in Zambia

A plane, which made a stop in Cairo, was later seized in Zambia along with its cargo. The cargo was found to contain over $5 million in cash, 602 suspected gold bars mixed with other metals like zinc, copper, and nickel, as well as weapons. According to reports, an Egyptian army major, along with other Egyptian officials, was aboard this plane. The incident attracted significant media attention due to the mystery surrounding the plane’s contents and its passengers, leading various platforms to cover the event in depth.

Journalist’s Detainment

Karim Asaad, a journalist working for the fact-checking platform Matsda2sh (or “Don’t Believe”), was arrested from his home in al-Shorouk, a suburb in eastern Cairo. The arrest came after Matsda2sh extensively covered the aforementioned plane incident. Notably, the platform also accused security forces of assaulting Asaad’s wife and threatening their child during the detention process. Asaad’s location post-arrest remains undisclosed. The incident has raised alarms among media watchdogs as Egypt has a history of being among the world’s top jailers of journalists.

Claims by the Matsda2sh Platform

Matsda2sh is known for debunking misinformation through its social media presence. The platform is assertive about its journalists being independent, even going to lengths to hide their identities for safety reasons. Following the coverage of the plane incident:

  • The website claimed to be subjected to a coordinated attack by Egyptian authorities.
  • Security forces allegedly demanded access to Matsda2sh’s accounts, urging the deletion of specific articles relating to the identities of Egyptians aboard the seized plane.
  • The platform made public their concerns about the safety of their team, holding the Egyptian authorities responsible for any harm that might come to them.

Reactions and Statements

The Egyptian Press Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee and the syndicate of Egyptian journalists have both expressed concern over the situation. They have:

  • Urged authorities to disclose Asaad’s current location.
  • Called for an investigation into allegations of assaults against him and his family.
  • Pushed for Asaad’s immediate release.

No immediate comment has been received from the government in response to these events. Matsda2sh, in their public statements, mentioned that the security forces primarily questioned Asaad about the platform’s coverage of the plane incident. Some independent Egyptian journalists also released documents from the Zambian investigation naming Egyptian suspects, including army and police officers. However, the authenticity of these documents remains unverified.

The Bigger Picture

Reporters Without Borders, a prominent media watchdog, has ranked Egypt 166th out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index. Such incidents only highlight the growing concerns over freedom of the press and human rights in the country. Egypt has often been under scrutiny for its stance on the incarceration of dissidents, freedom of expression, LGBTQ rights, and women’s rights.

Conclusion

Karim Asaad’s encounter highlights the continual battle for press liberty in Egypt. While international oversight bodies keep a close watch, it’s uncertain how Egypt’s government will respond to these issues in the near future. The narrative of the impounded aircraft in Zambia and the ensuing media reportage has shed light on larger problems at hand, providing a possible pivot for media independence in the nation. It remains to be seen whether this event will serve as a trigger for transformation or just another episode in Egypt’s intricate dealings with the media.

Jonas Muthoni
Jonas is a visionary serial entrepreneur with an innate ability to turn ideas into influential realities. As the founder of Deviate Agency and SomeFuse, Jonas has successfully carved a niche in the world of media by helping brands capture the spotlight with his meticulously crafted strategies. His prowess goes beyond business; he is an avid writer and contributor to various publications, sharing insights that reflect his deep understanding of the contemporary market landscape. Beyond his professional pursuits, Jonas's heart is deeply rooted in philanthropy. For over six years, he has been a dedicated board member for a breast cancer organization, reinforcing his commitment to giving back to the community and making a tangible difference in the lives of many. In a world that's constantly evolving, Jonas Muthoni stands as a beacon of innovation, compassion, and leadership.