The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today protested over an Egyptian court sentencing four tabloid newspaper editors to a year in jail, which it said suggested a government crackdown on independent journalism. It said the sentences sent a message to media that journalists who did not support the government could be subject to litigation.
“This verdict appears to signal that the Egyptian government is engaged in a dangerous crackdown on freedom of the press,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Besides the clear political motivation for the case, the sentences themselves are punitive and inappropriate for media offences.”
Adel Hammouda, editor of the weekly al-Fagr, Wael Ibrashi of the weekly Sawt al-Umma, daily al-Dustour editor Ibrahim Eissa and Abdel Halim Qandil, editor of the weekly al-Karama, were each sentenced to a year in jail for their articles, which criticized President Hosni Mubarak, top officials or the President’s son. They also face fines of 20,000 Egyptian pounds (2557 euros) in addition to paying 10,000 pounds (1278 euros) for conditional release during their appeals.
Additionally Eissa is also facing charges in a separate case for allegedly publishing false news about the President’s poor health.
In a statement the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate (ES) demanded that the government abolish the press laws that “aim to frighten and intimidate journalists.”
The IFJ is supporting the ES in its call to end the criminalization of media law, to overturn the convictions of the four editors and to allow independent and critical reporting in the country.
“Egypt, as one of the leading countries in the region, should be setting standards which are models of free of expression not compromising these principles,” White said.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide