lndex on Censorship and ARTICLE 19 are alarmed by the continuing assault on press freedom in Egypt. This week, no less than three cases will come to trial. All three represent a serious infringement of the right to free expression. It is the culmination
of a year-long campaign of intimidation against journalists and bloggers
Howaida Taha, al Jazeera journalist, was detained in January 2007, while making a documentary on torture in Egypt. Her case comes up on 3 December. The documentary was broadcast on al Jazeera in April and has become a significant testimony of the
violations committed by the country’s security apparatus. Ms Taha was sentenced in absentia on the 2 May by al Nozha Felonies Court in Egypt to six months in prison and hard labour under Article 80 and 178 of the penal code, which prohibit ‘acts that
intend to harm national interests’ and ‘possessing and giving pictures and recorded material that undermine the image of the country by presenting material contrary to the reality or presenting inappropriate scenes’.
On 5 December, Ibrahim Issa, editor-in-chief of al Dustour, will face trial in Algalaa’ Court. In September 2007, Issa was charged with publishing reports ‘likely to disturb public security and damage the public interest’ in respect of articles published
in al Dustour about President Mubarak’s state of health.
The third case will be heard on 8 December and threatens the existence of a number of blogs, news websites, and the websites of local and international human rights organizations – including Ifex, Index on Censorship, and the Arabic Network for Human
Rights. Earlier this year, Judge Abd al-Fattah Mourad filed a lawsuit against a number of human rights NGOs and blogs, describing them as terrorist and accusing them of harming the reputation of Egypt and Arab rulers and of posting information which
insult the President. He called for those websites to be blocked.
Newspaper editor Ibrahim Eissa was sentenced by an Egyptian court to six months hard labor in jail for publishing an article last year about health problems facing Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.
He was found guilty of damaging the national economy, although bankers have said it was difficult to link the drop in foreign investment at the time to the articles that were published.
Central Bank officials testified in court that investments of up to $350 million left the country on the days that Al-Dustour published the reports on the president's health.
Last year, Eissa was sentenced along with three other newspaper editors to a year in prison in a separate case for defaming Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic party. That trial also concerned newspaper articles about the president's health.
Eissa is one of the president's most outspoken critics. He has had run-ins with Egyptian authorities in the past. The paper was shut down for nearly seven years at one point.
The editor says the latest sentence sheds light on the limits to press freedom in Egypt. He says the verdict proves that Mubarak's government crushes the international right to freedom of expression.
Update: Appeal Result
3rd October 2008
The Boulak Abul Ela Appeal Court on the outskirts of Cairo reduced the six-month jail term given in March to Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Dustour, to two months in prison for “publishing false information and rumors” about
President Hosni Mubarak’s health. The court said Eissa’s August 2007 articles were likely to disturb public security and harm the country’s economy.
The verdict, which was issued amid tight security measures and heavy police presence both inside and outside the courtroom, took lawyers by surprise and prompted protests among journalists and human rights activists, who chanted anti-Mubarak slogans
inside the courthouse.
The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the presidential pardon today of a two-month jail sentence against Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Dustour.
On September 28, a Court of appeal in Cairo reduced a six-month jail term given in March to Eissa to two months in prison for publishing false information and rumors about President Hosni Mubarak’s health. The court said Eissa’s August 2007
articles were likely to disturb public security and harm the country’s economy.
The presidential pardon coincide with Egypt celebrates the anniversary of a 1973 war against the state of Israel.
We are relieved that Ibrahim Eissa will not serve time in jail, said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. His sentence was nothing more than retaliation for reporting the government did not like.
The readers of Al Badeel newspaper were shocked by its absence in markets.
The Network was informed that Al Ahram printers had refused to complete printing the first edition that came out in evening, they also refused to print the second edition entirely.
The highlights of the censored Al Badeel on 19th of August, included:
Joyfulness in Pakistan following the President Resignation… Egyptian Politicians: Wishing the same for us.
Big Fire in al Shoura Council Building, reached the People’s Council”. This is what seems to have annoyed the security apparatus, particularly the suggestion of arson.
Report on the “Death Ferry” and Cancerous Pesticides.
The rejection to print Al Badeel also exposed the dishonesty of the government's denial of press censorship. The rejection of printing or delaying some of the publication has somehow become a common occurrence, particularly for government-criticizing
newspapers – such as Addustour and Al Badeel
An Egyptian editor was sentenced to one-year in prison as the Egyptian government continued its efforts to censor media in the country.
Press freedom groups have condemned the ruling, saying Cairo is doing little to ensure freedom of the press.
Ahmed Baker Seleem, editor of the Cairo Today newspaper, was handed a one-year jail term for publishing a newspaper without a license, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported. Seleem, who was also fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds
(US$1,845), is currently free on bail while he awaits appeal.
The case was brought to court after a rival newspaper accused Seleem of defamation. It was later discovered that Cairo Today had been publishing without a license.
Modern Egypt has been compared to a surrealist painting: difficult to decipher and comprehend, dominated by dark, abrasive lines at the
centre yet giving way to softer, more hopeful brush strokes at the periphery.
The big news has been the presidential pardon of the controversial editor and outspoken regime critic Ibrahim Eissa, who sits at the helm of al-Dostour newspaper. This phenomenally popular daily has been a constant thorn in the government's side
since it reopened in 2005 – seven years after being shut down for publishing an Islamist statement. In August last year, as whispers regarding Hosni Mubarak's health swirled through the streets, Eissa had the mendacity to write:
The president in Egypt is a god and gods don't get sick. Thus, President Mubarak, those surrounding him, and the hypocrites hide his illness and leave the country prey to rumours. It is not a serious illness. It's just old
age. But the Egyptian people are entitled to know if the president is down with something as minor as the flu.
In an Orwellian doublespeak world where the president declares his belief in press freedom to be "unshakeable" and promises that no journalist will go to jail for doing their job, that paragraph was enough to land Eissa in court, where
he was accused of single-handedly undermining international confidence in Egypt's stability and wiping $350m off the stock market.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned an Egyption court's recent decision to fine Nader Gohar, the head of the Cairo News Company
(CNC), LE 150,000 after his company broadcast images of rioters tearing down portraits of President Hosni Mubarak in April.
The court's decision is a death warrant to CNC, RSF said in a press statement. The Egyptian authorities are not even trying to hide their desire to censor independent media and control the news.
The Egyptian Television and Radio union (ERTU) had filed a complaint against Gohar for airing footage of riots in the Delta region showing citizens protesting high prices and attacking President Mubarak's pictures. The footage dates back to April
Following the complaint, the Egyptian police forces raided CNC's office confiscating several pieces of equipment, accusing him of working without required licenses and permits.
The video recording was later aired by channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and France 2.
The case is not legitimate as the sole reason behind it is the footage that shows the citizens stepping on President Mubarak's picture, Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) who is also part of Gohar's
defense team told Daily News Egypt: Security forces wanted a scapegoat to show the president that they got who's responsible.
According to Eid, ANHRI will appeal the case soon.
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
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 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 .
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.