Dutch Reporter Arrested on Suspicion of Spying, Held for 24 Hours

Reporters Without Borders condemns Dutch journalist Rena Netjes' arrest on suspicion of spying on 8 April. Cairo correspondent for BNR Nieuwsradio and Het Parool, she was released on 9 April after being held overnight and being taken before a court in the capital. In the end, the only charge brought against her was inability to justify her profession at the time of arrest because she left her press card at home.

Another Cairo-based foreign correspondent told Reporters Without Borders that Egypt is currently awash with "spying paranoia" fueled by government comments. Both local and foreign reporters are finding it harder and harder to work because the authorities are doing everything possible to silence critics and restrict freedom of information.

At the time of her arrest, Rena Netjes was interviewing young Egyptians in a café in the eastern Cairo district of Al-Rehab for a report on youth unemployment in Egypt. The café's owner and other people participated in her arrest and handed her over to the police. The owner accused her of spying and wanting to "impose western culture on Egyptians."

Reporters Without Borders is relieved by her release but condemns the attitude of the authorities towards journalists. "This policy of intimidation towards the media must stop," the organization said.

Netjes' "citizen arrest" was encouraged by prosecutor-general Talaat Ibrahim's recent comment urging ordinary Egyptians to cooperate with the police and declaring that they had the right to carry out "judicial arrests." Although the prosecutor-general's office later denied this, it seems that ordinary civilians cooperated in Netjes's arrest.


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.