Masr al-Arabia journalists say raid on its offices prompted by decision to run New York Times piece on alleged election irregularities.
Egyptian police have raided the office of a news website and arrested its editor-in-chief as part of a wider crack down on media that reported allegations of vote buying during last month’s presidential election.
The raid late on Tuesday came two days after the supreme council for media regulation, an official oversight body, told the Masr al-Arabia website to pay 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,849) as a fine for republishing a New York Times article on alleged irregularities during the presidential election. The website is one of over 500to have been blocked within Egypt since May 2017.
Two journalists at the website quoted the site’s lawyers as saying that police said they had acted because the website did not have a permit to operate. The journalists said the raid was prompted by the republishing of the New York Times article.
A statement from the council, which was based on a complaint from the national election authority, on Sunday had accused the website of publishing false news.
“The website should have checked the authenticity of the news or commented on it with an opinion,” the council statement said, referring to the New York Times article, which said some voters were offered payments and other inducements to vote.
The New York Times defended its reporting. “We stand by the accuracy of our reporting and strongly condemn any arrests meant to intimidate journalists and stifle freedom of the press,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman said.
Adel Sabry, the website’s editor-in-chief, was arrested and was still being held at Dokki police station in greater Cairo on Wednesday.
A security source at the police station said Sabry was being held prior to appearing before a prosecutor. Sabry is accused of running a news website without a permit, the source added.
The office of the website was closed and sealed with red wax, the three journalists said.