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Egypt: State TV journalist and activist Hala Fahmy detained

The outspoken government critic has led protests against alleged corruption in state-owned media
Hala Fahmy has been detained pending investigations into charges of "joining a group founded in violation of the provisions of the law and spreading false news" (screengrab)

Egyptian state television presenter Hala Fahmy has been detained days after announcing that she was chased by strangers, lawyer Khalid Ali said on Tuesday.

Fahmy has emerged as an outspoken government critic on her social media platforms in recent months, and has led protests against corruption and late payment of wages at the headquarters of the Radio and Television Union, the state-run broadcaster in the Maspero building in Cairo. 

On Sunday, Fahmy posted an online video saying that she had been "chased by unknown individuals" after posting online videos calling out officials for alleged corruption and mismanagement of the economy. 

Fahmy was suspended for three months on 17 February for inciting her colleagues to demonstrate to demand financial rights. But she told Middle East Eye that she was not deterred by that punishment. 

"I will keep protesting until I get my rights," Fahmy said last month. "I have taken the first step and I will not stop." 

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Her lawyer said on Tuesday that she has been detained pending investigations into charges of "joining a group founded in violation of the provisions of the law and spreading false news", in case number 441/2022.

Another state media journalist, Safaa al-Korbigi, was detained on Monday pending the same charges.

Korbigi had gone missing for two days after her detention, then appeared at the Supreme State Security Prosecution for investigations.

She had worked for the state-owned Radio and Television Magazine until a decision to dismiss her in March over her absence from work.

The two journalists had been vocal critics of the economic crisis currently afflicting the country, and had been posting online videos in recent months criticising the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

In 2021, Egypt ranked as the third-worst jailer of journalists, with 25 journalists in prisons, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

More than half of all prisoners in Egypt are political, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

The total number of prisoners in Egypt in March 2021 was 120,000, with an estimated 65,000 political prisoners - at least 26,000 of them were held in pre-trial detention.

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