The leaders of Egypt’s journalists union were detained by authorities on Monday in what is being viewed as a crackdown on press freedom in the north African country.
Prosecutors refered the head of the union, Yehia Qalash, and two other board members, Khaled el-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim, to stand trial after they were formally charged with spreading false information and habouring fugitives.
The charges stem from a police raid on the union on May 2, when 40 members of the security forces entered the premises and arrested journalists Mahmoud Sakka and Amr Badr on charges that they had published false news and incited protests.
A statement from Cairo’s prosecution office said their trial would begin on Saturday.
Their arrest has been condemned by rights groups and Amnesty International described the arrests as “an alarming setback for freedom of expression and the most brazen attack that the country has witnessed in decades.”
The decision to charge the journalists came as authorities in Egypt try to quell rising opposition against president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.