NEW YORK, (CPJ) – Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, August 22, plainclothes state security forces arrested Ziada, the father of Belgium-based freelance Egyptian journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada, on a street in Giza, according to news reports and a tweet by the journalist.
On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada with misusing social media, spreading false news, and belonging to a banned group, and ordered his detention pending trial, according to tweets by his son and a local journalist familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
In his tweets, the journalist said his father had no political affiliation and only used social media to promote his clothing manufacturing business. The person who spoke with CPJ said they believed Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada was arrested in retaliation for his son’s work.
“Egyptian authorities’ arrest of journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada’s father is a deeply troubling form of retaliation against a member of the press,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour, in Washington, D.C. “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada, drop all charges against him, and cease from harassing journalists’ family members.”
Ahmed Gamal Ziada covers human rights issues and Egyptian foreign policy for regional independent news websites including Raseef22, Daraj, and Middle East Eye.
He was previously detained for 16 months in 2013 on charges of participating in an illegal demonstration and assaulting a police officer, and was arrested on January 29, 2019, on charges of spreading false news. He was released in March of the same year.
CPJ emailed the Egyptian Ministry of Interior for comment but did not receive any response.