Egypt - Al Dustour editor sentenced to six months in prison



    MONTREAL, March 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
six-month prison sentence that a criminal court in the Cairo district of Bulak
Abu Al-Ala imposed on 26 March on Ibrahim Issa, the editor of the weekly
Al Dustour.
    Although courts previously dismissed eight other similar complaints
against him, Issa was finally convicted under articles 171 and 188 of the
criminal code of publishing false information "liable to harm the general
interest and the country's stability." He was also fined 200 pounds
(30 euros).
    "The authorities are continuing the campaign of intimidation against
independent journalists that began at the start of 2007," Reporters Without
Borders said. "Comments about the necessary limits on press freedom made by
the judge the day after passing sentence are indicative of the judiciary's
general attitude towards the media."
    The case dates back to 5 September 2007, when a member of the ruling
National Democratic Party brought a complaint about articles referring to
rumours about President Hosni Mubarak's health.
    Issa's lawyer told Reporters Without Borders he thought the conviction
was unjustified as eight other complaints brought by pro-government lawyers
against Issa in 2007 for the same reasons were dismissed on the grounds that
there was "no direct, family link between the plaintiffs and the president."
He added that he intended to appeal.
    A case involving Issa and the editors of three other weeklies - Adel
Hammouda of Al-Fagr, Wael Al-Abrashi of Sawt Al-Umma and Abdel-Halim Qandil of
Karama - is meanwhile due to be heard by an appeal court on 5 April. A
criminal court in the Cairo district of Al-Aguza sentenced them on
13 September 2007 to a year of forced labour and fines of 20,000 pounds
(2,600 euros) for publishing false information "liable to harm the general
interest and the country's stability."




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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