Egyptian authorities arrested Tawfiq Ghanem on May 2, where the veteran journalist has been detained for over 150 days.
Several global rights watchdogs have called for the release of journalist Tawfiq Ghanem, a former regional director of Anadolu Agency who was arrested in May.
Eleven human rights organizations have recently called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release the 66-year-old journalist Tawfik Ghanem, who has been arbitrarily detained for 150 days solely because of his media work. Pending his release, Ghanem should be granted immediate access to medical care.
Ghanem, 65, served as a regional director for Anadolu Agency before he retired in 2015. He was subject to forced disappearance on 26 May for five days, when he was questioned about his previous work at the Turkey-based news agency.
Since then, Cairo’s Supreme State Security Prosecution has been renewing his pretrial detention pending investigation on charges of spreading false news, misusing social media and terrorism.
The joint statement released yesterday asserted that Ghanem “is being denied access to adequate healthcare in prison or outside facilities for diagnosis and treatment.”
According to his family, Ghanem needed a medical checkup for a “suspected kidney tumor 50 days ago” as he also “suffers from diabetes, neuritis in his legs and knee, lower back problems, and an enlarged prostate that requires ongoing specialist treatment in a properly equipped medical facility.”
The human rights NGOs called on Egyptian authorities “to stop their systematic crackdown on media freedom and halt the misuse of pretrial detention pending investigation on bogus terrorism charges to punish any criticism or dissent.”
The statement was signed by Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Democracy for the Arab World Now, Egyptian Front for Human Rights, the Freedom Initiative, International Service for Human Rights, MENA Rights Group, PEN America, Project on Middle East Democracy, and Sinai Foundation for Human Rights.
On May 26, he was brought before the State Security Prosecution in the east of Cairo and was “charged with joining a terrorist group and was held in pretrial detention for 15 days pending further investigation.”
An Egyptian, Tawfiq Ghanem has worked for over 30 years in the field of journalism. He served as Anadolu Agency’s regional director between 2012 and 2015 until his retirement.
Following is the text of the joint statement:
Joint Statement Calls on Egypt to Immediately Release Journalist Tawfik Ghanem After 150 Days in Detention
Eleven human rights organizations call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release 66-year-old journalist Tawfik Ghanem, who has been arbitrarily detained for 150 days solely because of his media work. Pending his release, Ghanem should be granted immediate access to medical care.
On 21 May 2021, Egyptian authorities subjected Tawfik Ghanem to enforced disappearance for five days during which he was questioned about his previous work at Anadolu Agency, a state-run Turkish news agency. He then was brought before Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo on 26 May 2021, which ordered 15 days of pretrial detention pending investigations on charges of “spreading false news,” “misusing social media,” and “terrorism-related charges.” Since then, Ghanem’s pretrial detention has been renewed, even though he has been unable to challenge the lawfulness of his detention or communicate with his lawyer. Ghanem is currently held in Tora Reception (Istiqbal) prison and his detention was most recently renewed for 45 days on October 11, 2021.
The undersigned organizations are greatly alarmed that Tawfik Ghanem is being denied access to adequate healthcare in prison or outside facilities for diagnosis and treatment. According to his family, prison authorities failed to transfer Ghanem to an outside hospital despite the prison doctor recommending his transfer to the Qasr El Einy hospital for examinations for a suspected kidney tumor 50 days ago. According to his medical records, Ghanem also suffers from diabetes, neuritis in his legs and knee, lower back problems, and an enlarged prostate that requires ongoing specialist treatment in a properly equipped medical facility.
Throughout his career, Tawfik Ghanem has headed a number of media organizations, including Media International, which ran the Islam Online website for ten years. Most recently, he served as regional director of the Anadolu Agency in Cairo until his retirement in 2015.
The undersigned organizations call on authorities to stop their systematic crackdown on media freedoms and halt the misuse of pretrial detention pending investigations on bogus terrorism charges to punish any criticism or dissent. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2020 prison census, Egypt continues to arbitrarily detain a record number of at least 27 journalists and media workers, several of whom have been held in extended periods of pretrial detention.
1. Amnesty International
2. Civil Rights Defenders
3. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
4. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
5. Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR)
6. The Freedom Initiative
7. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
8. MENA Rights Group
9. PEN America
10. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
11. Sinai Foundation for Human Rights