In a continued crackdown on the independent press within the country, Egyptian authorities have arrested a number of journalists, bloggers, and activists this past month.

Among those detained is Wael Abbas, a high-profile Egyptian journalist, campaigner, and blogger-in-chief for the website Misr [email protected]

He was allegedly blindfolded and arrested by security forces who raided his home on Wednesday morning, according to media outlet Egyptian Streets.

In 2016, Abbas' Twitter account was suspended - and still is - for reasons that were not made clear at the time.

According to The Guardian, the suspension involved the deletion of "over 250,000 tweets, dozens of thousands of pictures, videos and live streams from the middle of every crisis in Egypt with a date stamp on them, reporting on people who got tortured, were killed or went missing."

The UK-based publication described it as a "live coverage of events as they happened in the street." That same year, Abbas was arrested upon returning to Egypt from South Korea. 

In 2007, his YouTube account was shut down over videos depicting police brutality in Egypt.

Abbas posted the news to Facebook

Not the only journalist in Egypt to get arrested this week

On Tuesday, Egyptian journalist Azza al-Hennawy was summoned to court for allegedly spreading "fake news" via her Facebook page by sharing articles from Qatar-based publication Al Jazeera.

According to Al Bawaba, Hennawy was arrested after engaging in a 36-minute phone call with Al Jazeera Mubashar, an all-Arabic channel based in Doha and known to be a platform for religious extremists and designated terrorist organizations.

"The head of the National Media Authority has filed a case against the accused for making a 36-minute phone call with Al Jazeera Mubasher, which is known for its hostility towards Egypt," one news report stated.

In 2016, Hennawy was fired from her role on state-run television after criticizing Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The journalist then joined Al Sharq TV, a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated channel based in Turkey, Gulf News reported.

This week, an Egyptian military court also sentenced Sinai journalist Ismail Alexandrani to 10 years in prison, according to The National.

Alexandrani was arrested in November 2015 for "publishing military secrets and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood," the UAE-based publication reported.

However, numerous supporters of Alexandrani have explained that the writings of the journalist were, in fact, critical of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"After journalists, Egypt arrests bloggers"

Earlier this month, Egyptian authorities arrested three bloggers, including Shadi Abu Zeid, whose satirical videos have gained wide popularity in the country. 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on Egyptian authorities, demanding it reevaluates its definition of terrorism.

Do "not to confuse disrespect with terrorism," RSF wroteAccording to BBC Arabic, Abu Zeid was arrested on charges of "spreading false news" and "joining a banned group."

Soon after Abu Zeid's arrest, The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed concern over the vlogger's detention.

"The second of these charges is particularly astonishing as Zeid has little in common with the suspected supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood to whom the charge is usually applied," RSF wrote in a statement.

Earlier this month, atheist blogger and YouTuber Sherif Gaber was arrested at Cairo airport after starting a blog in which his religious views were shared with the public.

Gaber was arrested on charges of "advocating atheism" - a charge he was previously accused of and detained for in 2013. 

Promoting atheism is punishable in Egypt under a law that bans "insults to religions."

"One of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists," as RSF once described Egypt

In 2017, a Press Freedom report revealed that the Middle East and North Africa is the world's worst region for press freedom.

The report investigated freedom of media and journalists in 180 countries and found that "democracies, as well as dictatorships, had increasingly clamped down on press freedom."

Following the release of the report, RSF described Egypt as "one of the world's biggest prisons for journalists" coming in at No. 161 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index ranking. 

In 2018, Egypt's place in the ranking remained the same. 

The Egyptian government's crackdowns on reporters, political activists, and social reformers have drawn condemnation from international human rights organizations and western governments.

Writers, especially journalists, have been at the forefront of the crackdown. In 2016, 40 armed members of the National Security Agency attacked journalists at the Press Syndicate, the first time since it was established in 1941.

Amnesty International called it "the most brazen attack on the media" in Egypt in decades. In 2015, a CPJ conducted census found that Egyptian authorities were holding at least 19 journalists behind bars for their work. 

This is the highest number in the country since the CPJ began recording data on imprisoned journalists in 1990, and the third highest of any country in the world.

The 2014 Egyptian Constitution protects "freedom of expression"

Egypt's constitution, drafted in 2014, explicitly guarantees freedom of artistic and literary creation, freedom of thought and opinion, and freedom of the press. 

Article 67 forbids the jailing of artists and writers for publishing their work.

"Every person shall have the right to express his/her opinion verbally, in writing, through imagery, or by any other means of expression and publication," the constitution states.

However, many have gone against the constitution with the enforcement of other laws, including Article 178 of the penal code, which criminalizes content that violates public morals.