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 government did not respond to requests for comment. The arrest on Feb. 4 came ahead of a presidential election later this month 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 26-28 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.
Egyptian prosecutors have long urged that critical outlets should be silenced.
Full Article: Ahead of contentious vote, Egypt sets sights on “fake news”.