International watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded that Egyptian authorities should immediately charge or release journalist Sabry Anwar and order an independent and thorough investigation into claims of torturing him in an official statement on Thursday.
Security forces arrested Anwar, who works for the independent newspaper El-Badil, from his home in Damietta more than 10 days ago, according to his wife and his employer, who have been searching for his detention location several days after the arrest.
“Masked security agents wearing civilian clothes and police uniforms raided Anwar’s home in Damietta at dawn on 21 February, arrested the journalist, seized his laptop and his mobile phone, and took him away in a police vehcile,” Anwar’s wife, Heba Al-Khedry, told CPJ.
Four days after his arrest, Al-Khedry was able to meet with him briefly at a nearby police station, during which time Anwar told her he had been subject to torture by electric shock on four separate occasions and that security officers had pressured him to confess to crimes he did not commit.
Anwar has been a correspondent with El-Badil for roughly a year covering local news in Damietta, Anwar’s supervisor at El-Badil, editor Karim Saeed, told CPJ. According to Saeed, weeks before his arrest, his coverage included a piece about negligence in public hospitals and alleged government negligence searching for survivors of a sunken fishing boat.
Since the ousting of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi mid-2013, journalists have struggled to do their jobs and have faced threats while reporting in the field, particularly while covering protests.
Hundreds of Egyptian journalists organised a protest Wednesday in front of the Press Syndicate to demand the release of fellow journalists.