Officials stop printing of newspaper, stoking new fears of censorship

Adham Youssef
5 Min Read

The printing of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Mesryoon was stopped at state-owned Al-Ahram printing press and the issue was confiscated, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information said in a statement.

The pull on printing occurred after Egyptian authorities objected to some of the newspaper’s content.

The newspaper’s weekly issue, which was sent to the press on Saturday night, was set to be sold on Sunday, when printing press officials stopped the process, the newspaper said Sunday.

“One of the disputed articles was the editorial note by the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Gamal Sultan,” the newspaper added, though security officials gave no official explanation.

The editorial discussed the latest SCAF phone call leaks, and the relationship between former Hosni Mubarak-era prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, suggesting the existence of political competition between the two.

Shafiq, a former presidential candidate, is set to lead the Egyptian Patriotic Movement’s list in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He is expected to return to Egypt after leaving for the Gulf in 2012, after being charged with corruption.

The newspaper added that officials in the printing station cited “logistical problems” for the delay, before discovering an intervention by “security officials”.

The issue also included reports that discussed the latest US senate report into the “enhanced interrogation” techniques practiced by the CIA and the cooperation with foreign nations, including Egypt. Other articles tackled parliamentary elections, and the 2011 cabinet clashes.

“After eight hours, the issue was granted a security permit, and was printed after being revised,” the newspaper website said. The incident, the newspaper added, “makes us question whether a free press exists in Egypt”, adding that “such restrictions contradict Al-Sisi’s promises about protecting press freedom”.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information expressed deep concern over the incident, noting that “press freedom in Egypt is facing tight control and continued censorship”. It added that preventing the newspaper from being printed is a “violation” of press freedom as well as a “technique used by former dictator Hosni Mubarak to silence any form of opposition”.

The network called upon Egyptian authorities to stop practicing “police censorship” on press and media.

A similar incident occurred last October, when a whole page of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper was censored by “governmental officials”. The page featured an interview with a former member of an Egyptian intelligence agent who was speaking about Israel’s intelligence agency.

Journalists Against Torture, a group running a monitoring centre that tracks abuses against journalists, recently published an info-graph announcing that 11 journalists are currently in jail in different cases, on various charges.

Among the detainees is Ayman Saqr, a journalist in Al-Mesryoon newspaper, who was arrested while covering the Salafi Front protests in Matariya district on 28 November.  He was referred to prosecution, where he is facing charges of “joining the Muslim Brotherhood group”

Another detainee is photographer Ahmed Gamal Ziada, who has been on hunger strike since August. He was arrested after taking pictures of protests at Al-Azhar University on 28 December 2013. The accusations filed against him include damaging government property and assaulting security forces.

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) filed a report to the Prosecutor General on 8 December, concerning the alleged assault against Ziada.

Last June, three Al Jazeera journalists were handed prison sentences ranging between seven to ten years in the Cairo Criminal Court based on accusations of aiding a terrorist group, tarnishing Egypt’s image abroad, threatening national security, and “creating a terrorist media network”.

Earlier this month, police forces assaulted and briefly detained two photojournalists from private newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, while covering protests in Abdel Moneim Riyadh Square.

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