The police in Egypt have arrested two journalists that are critical to government after they raided a press syndicate on Sunday in what a syndicate official and reporters described as an unprecedented crackdown.
The press labour union building which is a traditional spot in downtown Cairo to stage protests was the scene of the arrests which the interior ministry denied that its officers had stormed but confirmed some of its members had arrested the journalists inside the syndicate.
Since thousands took to the streets on April 15 to protest a decision by President Abdel Fattah Sisi to hand over two islands to Saudi Arabia, security forces have sought to quell dissent with police dispersing smaller protests groups two weeks later.
A syndicate official said on Sunday that journalists held a sit-in inside the union when officers arrested two of them working for the opposition website Bawabet Yanayer including its editor.
“The incident is true and at the very least the interior minister has to be fired and there needs to be an apology,” Khalid al-Balshy, a syndicate board member told Reuters.
Mahmoud Kamel, a member of the syndicate board, said over 40 policemen raided the building but the interior ministry said its force consisted of only eight officers.
“The ministry affirms that it did not raid the syndicate or use any kind of force in arresting the two journalists who handed themselves in as soon as they were told there was an arrest warrant,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
A security guard was wounded in the eye when police raided the union, Kamel said.
“There was an arrest warrant for the two journalists issued a week ago but the syndicate was negotiating with the interior ministry over the matter,” he said.
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