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BBC says it ‘stands by’ reports Egypt has been jailing political opponents after state accuses it of publishing ‘lies’

By Arun Kakar

Egypt’s State Information Service has accused the BBC of “lies and false allegations” over reports claiming the country’s political opponents have been “rounded up” ahead of presidential elections next month.

In a report on the BBC News website titled Shadow Over Egypt, Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin reported that opponents of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi “have been jailed, tortured or disappeared”.

The claims were also made in an accompanying video report, Crushing Dissent in Egypt, which aired on Newsnight, the BBC News Channel and BBC World over the weekend.

The reports feature “testaments” from individuals who claim to have been subjected to torture by authorities for their involvement in protests against the regime, which they say they had no part in.

In its statement, the SIS said the BBC reports were “flagrantly fraught with lies and allegations as regards many issues, namely political and social status in Egypt, conditions in prisons, human rights, among others”.

It also accused the BBC of a “horrifying amount of contradictions, alarming visible non-neutrality and blatant violation of media standards that the BBC is supposed to be on top of media corporations adhering to”.

According to the Egypt Independent, the head of the SIS, Diaa Rashan, has called on Egyptian officials and the country’s elite to boycott the BBC and refrain from conducting interviews with its correspondents until it officially apologises.

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In a press conference on Tuesday, Rashan is reported to have said that the boycott was not intended to affect the BBC’s right to obtain information and data for its work.

In response to the allegations made by the SIS, a BBC spokesperson said: “We are aware of the reports about this BBC story on Egyptian TV and of the comments of the head of the State Information Service. We stand by the integrity of our reporting teams.”

Picture: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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