Ismail Alexandrani, Freelance
Medium:Print, Internet
Imprisoned:November 29, 2015

Alexandrani, a freelance journalist and researcher whose work focuses on the Sinai Peninsula and Islamist movements in Egypt, was arrested at Hurghada airport upon his return from Berlin, on November 29, 2015, according to news reports. He was questioned by national security agents in Hurghada before being transferred to Cairo two days later, his wife,Khadeega Gaafar, told CPJ.

On December 1, 2015, national security prosecutors questioned Alexandrani for more than nine hours and charged him with belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, promoting the purposes of that group, and intentionally disseminating false information, according to local rights groups and statementsmade by Alexandrani's lawyers, who were present for the questioning.

Alexandrani has written critically of the Egyptian military's efforts to combat extremist militias in the Sinai Peninsula, including for independent newspapers al-Safir and al-Modon, both based in Lebanon. He has also written for the Egyptian newspaper al-Badil. Government censorship and intimidation has resulted in scarce independent reporting about fighting in the peninsula and its toll on the civilian population.

Alexandrani was a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program in Washington, D.C in the spring of 2015. After leaving the U.S., he moved to Turkey and gave several talks in Berlin and other European cities. The journalist knew he risked arrest over his writing upon returning to Egypt, but was compelled to return for a family emergency, according to statementsmade by his friends on social media and in news reports.

Regional and international rights and press freedom groups launched campaignscalling for the journalist's release. Alexandrani's wife was able to visit him after he had been questioned at national security headquarters in Cairo, before he was moved to Tora prison, where he is being held. She told CPJ that the journalist is in good health. No trial date had been set by December 1, 2015.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.