The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes a Cairo appeals court decision to strike down a one-year jail term against four editors, but condemns that the conviction stands for criticizing President Hosni Mubarak and his top aides.
An appellate court judge Mohamed Samir struck down a one-year jail-term given in September 2007 to four editors for publishing false information likely to disturb public order. However, the court upheld a 20,000 Egyptian pound (US$3,540)
fine against Ibrahim Eissa of the daily Al-Dustour, Adel Hamouda of the weekly Al-Fajr, Wael el-Abrashi, former editor of Sawt Al-Umma, and Abdel Halim Kandil, former editor of the weekly Al Karama.
We are relieved that the prison terms have finally been struck down, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. But we condemn the practice of using the judiciary to criminalize critical journalism
and spread fear and self-censorship. We call on Egypt's highest judicial authorities to overturn this politically motivated verdict.
Eissa is among the most judicially harassed journalists in the country. In September, an appeals court sentenced him to six months in prison for disseminating false news about Mubarak's health. He was granted a presidential pardon in
October. Eissa said that the regime's willingness to accept the media has regressed and that there is no room for journalistic expression when reporters are threatened with 32 articles in the penal code and the press regulation law.
The Egyptian judiciary should overturn today's court decision to impose a fine on five journalists for violating a ban on media coverage of a murder trial, the Committee to Protect Journalists have said. The trial involves an influential
businessman who is a member of President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party.
In a hearing attended by CPJ today, the Sayyida Zainab Misdemeanors Court sentenced Magdi al-Galad, Yusri al-Badri, and Faruq al-Dissuqi, respectively the editor and reporters of the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm; Abbas al-Tarabili, editor
of the opposition daily Al-Wafd, and reporter Ibrahim Qaraa to a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,803) each.
They were found guilty of violating a November 2008 court decision banning media coverage of the trial of Hisham Talaat Mustafa, a billionaire businessman charged of killing his reputed mistress, Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim.
We are dismayed by this latest politically motivated court ruling and call on the Egyptian judiciary to overturn it on appeal, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.
Sayyid Abu Zaid, lawyer for the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate said: It deals a harsh blow to journalists' right to gather information and to cover cases of public interest. He described the ruling as a dangerous precedent and a prescription for more blackouts on corruption cases involving influential figures and businessmen
that are close to Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party.
Abu Zaid said he was consulting with the five journalists to appeal what he and other lawyers called an unconstitutional ruling.
Egypt's government plans to ease press censorship for two years and end property confiscation by the state, Al Ahram newspaper reported, without saying how it obtained the information.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif will present the proposals to parliament in Cairo, the state-run newspaper said.
The measures temporarily ease an emergency law that was introduced after Islamist militants assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The emergency law will still be applied against terrorism and narcotics suspects, Al Ahram said.
Egypt's Information Ministry has launched a campaign with the Interior Ministry's censorship department to reconsider the permits of 16 satellite channels broadcasting from Egypt.
Informed sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the office of Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, which began transmission following the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in February, was raided by Egyptian authorities.
Information Minister Osama Heikal announced that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the cabinet decided after a joint meeting that day to temporarily suspend granting new permits to satellite channels. They also decided to prosecute
satellite channels deemed threatening to the stability of the country.
Egyptian rights organizations meanwhile condemned the decision, saying it is a regression to the oppressive policies of Mubarak's regime.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the censorship of two newspapers in the past four days, the first instances of their kind since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in February. Production of the Saturday edition of the
independent weekly Sawt al-Umma was halted, while the daily Rose al-Youssef was prevented from printing a page in today's paper that was to feature a controversial story.
The military government has revived Mubarak-era repression, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. These two instances of censorship have been preceded by the closing of a news bureau, the
interrogation of journalists, and other instances of press restrictions and intimidation.
Al-Ahram printing house, which publishes the semi-official daily Al-Ahram and other newspapers, told Sawt al-Umma editors that it was halting production of its Saturday edition because of the paper's story on Mubarak's ongoing trial, news reports
said. Sawt al-Umma was a frequent target of harassment under Mubarak's regime, CPJ research shows.
The Rose al-Youssef article that offended described an alleged Israeli spy once stationed in Cairo.
Egypt's newest newspaper has become the victim of state censorship after staff were ordered to shelve an entire print run of 20,000 copies over an article that suggested the leader of the governing Military Council could go to prison.
Employees at the Egypt Independent, an English-language weekly, were told the latest edition could not be distributed because of the final two paragraphs of an opinion piece about Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the de facto president.
It is another blow for those who have raised concerns about the direction of Egypt's revolution, with critics alleging that the country's top brass appear intent on undermining the popular uprising to preserve their decades-old networks of power.
The offending article, headlined, Is Tantawi reading the public pulse correctly? , had suggested that many in the military believed their reputation was being abused. The military institution could remove him to save itself, argued
the opinion piece, by American historian Dr Robert Springborg. It concluded that a group of discontented officers might decide that a coup within the coup was the best way to deal with Tantawi, and mentioned a possible contender for
the Field Marshal's post.
An Egyptian court ordered editions of a newspaper confiscated over claims that it insulted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's official news agency said.
Editions of Al-Dustour , a privately owned daily, were seized after several individuals filed lawsuits accusing it of fuelling sedition and harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law, MENA said.
The paper, a tabloid owned by a Christian businessman, has been fiercely critical of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood while showing strong support for the military council, which took power after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in last year's
Saturday's edition featured a lengthy front-page article warning of a Brotherhood emirate seizing Egypt and calling on Egyptians to join ranks with the military to confront Islamists. The lawsuits also accuse the paper of inflammatory
coverage of recent sectarian violence.
A popular Egyptian political satirist is being investigated by prosecutors for allegedly insulting the president. A formal complaint was brought against Bassem Youssef for undermining the standing of President Mohamed Morsi in his
Separately, an independent newspaper says it has been accused by the presidency of circulating false news and is being investigated.
The cases come amid increasing worries about press freedoms in Egypt. Many journalists have joined critics of the new Islamist-backed constitution, saying it does not offer enough guarantees of press freedoms.
Bassem Youssef is a doctor who shot to fame after winning a huge number of followers with his witty lampooning of public figures in amateur videos posted on the internet following the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's rule. He became a
household name when his satirical show began to be broadcast three times a week on one of Egypt's independent satellite stations. He has poked fun at everyone from fellow television presenters to well-known Muslim scholars and most recently
President Morsi himself, the BBC's Shaimaa Khalil reports,
But sketches in which he portrayed Morsi as a pharaoh, calling him Super Morsi for holding on to executive and legislative powers, and, separately, putting the president's image on a pillow and parodying his speeches have angered one
Islamist lawyer, whose formal complaint has resulted in the investigation.
An arrest warrant has been issued for a popular Egyptian political satirist for allegedly insulting Islam and President Mohammed Morsi. Bassem Youssef has faced several complaints over his show El Bernameg (The Programme). He has poked fun at a
wide range of figures, from fellow television presenters to well-known Muslim scholars and recently Morsi himself.
As well as insulting Morsi and Islam, Mr Youssef is also accused of spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order .
Authorities in Egypt's new military-run government raided Al-Jazeera's Egyptian station, disrupting its service, and shut down at least three stations supportive of Mohamed Morsi in a series of moves that seemed designed to cut off coverage of
pro-Morsi events, according to news accounts.
Al-Jazeera reported that security forces raided the Cairo offices of its Egyptian station, Al-Jazeera Mubashir, interrupting service, and detaining several people. The raid came during a live broadcast, the station said. Reuters also reported the
raid, citing an account from a station journalist who said coverage of a pro-Morsi rally had also been obstructed.
Misr25, the Muslim Brotherhood's television station, went off the air minutes after Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian defense minister, announced Morsi's ouster, state media reported . A live feed from Misr25 that was being carried by
Al-Jazeera English suddenly went black, as did the outlet's live YouTube feed. Misr25 had carried news and commentary that directly reflected the Muslim Brotherhood's political perspective.
The state-run Al-Ahram and the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said two other pro-Morsi channels, the Salafi-affiliated Al-Hafiz and Al-Nas, also went off the air at that time. Al-Ahram said police entered the Media Production City
offices of all three stations.
Journalists of the 'Freedom and Justice' Paper have protested the banning and confiscation of the paper, describing the decision as illegal.
According to the statement, the paper had been previously confiscated; the first time was on 4 July, the day following what they call the coup . The statement added that the 200 journalists and staff had been working in extremely
stressful conditions , as they have been suffering from incessant police harassments .
The statement listed the names of a number of its journalists who had died, been injured and detained while covering clashes. The statement also announced a strike:
We call on the head and board of the Press Syndicate to make an urgent statement about this ban, and we call on all the colleagues to support our justified case. We hereby announce that we will begin a strike in the Press Syndicate until we are
capable of doing our job without any of the security's interference.
The Ministry of Interior gave a statement announcing the ban of the Freedom and Justice Paper, which is considered one of the media outlets of the Freedom and Justice Party, the the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.