Ahead of Con­tentious Vote, Egypt sets Sights on ‘Fake News’

EME Outlook - - News -

Mostafa al-asar’s lawyer said he had barely started work on a doc­u­men­tary crit­i­cal of Egypt’s Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah al-sisi when po­lice ar­rested him and charged him with pub­lish­ing “fake news”.

The jour­nal­ist was de­tained be­fore he had even be­gun film­ing, his lawyer said.

The ar­rest on 4 Fe­bru­ary came ahead of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in March which Sisi is vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed to win. All op­po­si­tion can­di­dates ex­cept one have dropped out cit­ing in­tim­i­da­tion, while the re­main­ing chal­lenger has said he sup­ports the Pres­i­dent. The elec­tion com­mis­sion says it has been re­cep­tive to any com­plaints and the vote will be fair and trans­par­ent.

As the March elec­tion nears, Egypt has turned its at­ten­tion to news out­lets and jour­nal­ists it ac­cuses of spread­ing lies, in­clud­ing some for­eign me­dia and even one pro-gov­ern­ment com­men­ta­tor.

Au­thor­i­ties say curb­ing fic­ti­tious news is nec­es­sary for na­tional se­cu­rity. They reg­u­larly ac­cuse out­lets of a lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism in cov­er­ing Egypt and urge reporters to use only of­fi­cial out­lets as sources.

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