Four newspaper editors sentenced to a year’s forced labour for libelling president and ruling party

first_img EgyptMiddle East – North Africa RSF_en September 14, 2007 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Four newspaper editors sentenced to a year’s forced labour for libelling president and ruling party News A Cairo criminal court yesterday sentenced four newspaper editors to a year’s forced labour and the maximum possible fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds (2,600 euros) for libel and “false information harming the country’s reputation and general interests.” Their conviction was the result of lawsuits brought last year by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). “We are witnessing a crackdown on independent publications which had enjoyed a relative respite in recent years,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Once again, it is the same journalists, ones known for being critical of the government, that are being targeted.”The lawsuits were filed on 15 September 2006 by Ibrahim Rabe’a Abdel-Rasul, a lawyer and NDP member, against Ibrahim Issa of the weekly Al Dustour, Adel Hammouda of the weekly Al-Fagr, Wael Al-Abrashi of the independent newspaper Sawt Al-Umma and Abdel-Halim Qandil of the weekly Karama. The suits accused them of libelling President Hosni Mubarak, his son, Gamal (the party’s deputy secretary-general), the prime minister and the interior minister in articles published from July to September 2006.The charge of “insulting the president” was dismissed, but judge Sherif Ismael ruled that the four editors libelled the NDP and its leaders and “harmed the general interest by publishing false information” under articles 188, 302, 303 and 306 of the criminal code.The four editors will have to pay bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (1,300 euros) to avoid immediate imprisonment and they now have 10 days to file appeals. They were also sentenced to 10,000 Egyptians pounds for damage award.The Union of Egyptian Journalists described the sentences as a “declaration of war on press freedom” and demanded the repeal of all laws that allow journalists to be jailed. The press law adopted last year defines no fewer than 35 press offences that are punishable by imprisonment.It has become very hard for journalists to criticise President Mubarak and his inner circle at a time when the question of his succession is constantly being raised. Issa is currently also being prosecuted by a state security court under articles 102 (b) and 188 of the criminal code for “spreading false news about the president’s health likely to cause disturbances of the peace and harm the country’s reputation.” His trial is due to open on 1 October. Follow the news on Egypt Help by sharing this information Receive email alerts News Less press freedom than ever in Egypt, 10 years after revolution Newscenter_img February 1, 2021 Find out more Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein back home after four years in prison EgyptMiddle East – North Africa January 22, 2021 Find out more to go further Detained woman journalist pressured by interrogator, harassed by prison staff Organisation February 6, 2021 Find out more Newslast_img

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