Egyptian journalist briefly detained following mysterious plane coverage, his employer says

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities briefly detained a journalist working for a fact-checking platform following its coverage of a plane that was seized in Zambia along with its cargo after making a stop in Cairo, the outlet said Sunday.

Security forces arrested Karim Asaad early Saturday from his home in al-Shorouk neighborhood in eastern Cairo, the platform, Matsda2sh, or Don’t Believe, said in a statement.

The platform accused security forces of assaulting Asaad’s wife and threatening their child while detaining the journalist.

The platform said security forces asked Asaad about its extensive coverage of a mysterious plane intercepted in Zambia earlier this month after making a stop in Cairo.

The Egyptian Press Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee urged authorities to reveal Asaad’s whereabouts, investigate allegations of assaults against him and his wife and called for his release, in a statement Sunday.

Late Sunday, the outlet reported that Asaad was released and returned to his home.

There was no immediate comment from the government either on his detention or his release.

Zambian authorities said they found over $5 million in cash and more than 100 kilograms of suspected gold mixed with zinc, copper, and nickel on board the aircraft.

Zambian authorities said six Egyptians were detained along with four from Zambia, Netherlands, Spain and Latvia in relation to the mysterious plane.

Matsda2sh is a social media platform that focuses on debunking misinformation. The platform says its journalists are “independent” and “hide their identities” for safety reasons. It recently responded to questions about its funding, following its work on the seized plane, saying they do not receive any grants from governments.

Egypt is one the world’s top jailers of journalists, along with Turkey and China, according to media watchdogs. Authorities have for years targeted journalists as part of a crackdown on dissent and government critics.

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