A screenshot taken Sunday shows the Egyptian independent news portal Mada Masr announcing the arrest of its editor Lina Attallah, May 17, 2020.
A screenshot taken Sunday shows the Egyptian independent news portal Mada Masr announcing the arrest of its editor Lina Attallah, May 17, 2020.

CAIRO, EGYPT - Egyptian security services on Sunday detained the editor-in-chief of prominent independent news outlet Mada Masr, its lawyer said, the latest in a crackdown against journalists.  

Lina Attallah was arrested outside Cairo's Tora prison as she was interviewing rights activist Laila Soueif, mother of jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah who recently began a hunger strike.

"The prison security guards asked Attallah to show her identification card and later called her in for an investigation that lasted three hours," lawyer Hassan al-Azhari told AFP.

He said she was later taken a police station and was expected to appear before the prosecution Monday morning, adding the reason for her arrest and charges remained unclear.

Later on Sunday, Mada Masr tweeted that the prosecution ordered Attallah's release on bail of 2,000 Egyptian pounds ($127).

A screenshot taken Sunday shows the Egyptian independent news portal Mada Masr announcing the arrest of its editor Lina Attallah, May 17, 2020.

Atallah was sent back to Maadi police station to finalise her release procedures, it said.

Mada Masr is an online outlet that investigates corruption and security issues in both Arabic and English.

Its website has been blocked in Egypt in recent years along with hundreds of others including many critical of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government.

VPNs and other mirror sites are often used to bypass the block.

In November, security forces raided Mada Masr's offices in Cairo and questioned journalists there. Attallah and others were briefly detained.

The New York-based organisation said Thursday that Egyptian authorities arrested journalist Haitham Mahgoub who works for a local privately-owned newspaper. 

Citing his lawyer, it said Mahgoub faced charges of spreading false news and joining and funding a terrorist group.

In March, British newspaper The Guardian said its reporter in Egypt was forced to leave after her credentials were revoked over a report on coronavirus infections in the country.

Egypt has increasingly targeted journalists in an ongoing crackdown against dissidents since the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The clampdown has swept up thousands of the late Morsi's Islamist supporters as well as secular activists, lawyers and academics.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says at least 29 journalists are being held in jail in Egypt, which ranks 166th out of 180 countries in its 2020 world press freedom index.