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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 television show.
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 .
A Cairo court has rejected a petition by an Muslim Brotherhood lawyer to ban a satirical show for supposedly insulting the Mohamed Morsi, who is also a member of the Brotherhood.
Judge Hassouna Tawfiq said that the lawsuit against Bassem
Youssef's El-Bernameg, (The Programme) , was dropped because the plaintiff did not have a direct interest in the case.
Youssef was interrogated this week in a separate case for allegedly insulting Islam and Morsi which was criticised by
western governments and human rights groups.
Brotherhood lawyer Abul-Enein filed the suit demanding the suspension of the licence of the private satellite TV channel, the Capital Broadcasting Centre, which broadcasts the show. He claimed Youssef's
show corrupted morals and violated religious principles.
Undeterred by the charges against him, Youssef was back on the air on Friday poking fun at the international publicity he received after lampooning the Egyptian president.
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 .
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.