NEW YORK—A reported police raid on an Egyptian journalists’ union office and the arrests of two journalists illustrate an escalating and unacceptable series of attacks on press freedom, PEN America said in a statement today.

Egyptian police raided the Egyptian Press Syndicate’s building on Sunday during a sit-in protest by journalists and arrested two of them, according to union representatives. The arrested journalists, Amr Badr and Mahmoud al-Sakka, are reportedly charged with using false news to incite protests. Both men work for an opposition-affiliated website, Bawabet Yanayer, which is known for being critical of the government. The interior ministry denied that a raid had occurred but confirmed the execution of an arrest warrant against the two journalists.

“The reported raid on Egypt’s journalists’ union–the first in its 75-year history–demonstrates an unprecedented level of hostility towards the free press by President Sisi’s government,” said Katy Glenn Bass, deputy director of PEN America’s Free Expression Programs. “The two journalists arrested should be released immediately, and if the raid is confirmed, authorities should move quickly to hold accountable those who ordered it.”

On May 16, PEN will present the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award to novelist Ahmed Naji, who has been sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “violating public morals.” His case, and yesterday’s arrests, are emblematic of the tactics utilized by Egyptian authorities to quash free expression in multiple arenas from journalism to literature and art.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression at home and abroad. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. www.PEN.org

CONTACT
Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: +1 646-779-4830, sedkins@pen.org