Broken promises

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Reporters Without Borders Tuesday issued an inflammatory statement slamming the continued hounding of journalists in Egypt and called on President Hosni Mubarak to keep his pledge, made to parliament on Decembe19, to allow press freedom.

“Each year, President [Hosni] Mubarak announces that the authorities will stop their harassment of journalists, the worldwide press freedom organization said in a statement, “and each year such harassment increases. It is time the president kept his promises and decriminalized press offences as he said in 2004 he would.

Two journalists with the independent daily Al Fajr (Dawn), Mohamed Abdul-Latif and Manal Lasheen, were sentenced on December 14 to six and four years in prison respectively, and also fined, for writing last August that a cousin of MP Emad El-Gelda paid a man to serve a prison sentence in his place.The MP sued the journalists but they were allegedly not told about the case and only learned about their convictions from a newspaper report afterwards. They have now a hired lawyer, posted bail and a new hearing has been set for next February 15.

Mona El-Tahawi, a columnist for the daily Ash-Sharq Al Awsat, was summoned by state security officials on December 22 and allegedly interrogated about her coverage of the recent parliamentary elections. El-Tahawi also writes for foreign newspapers, including the International Herald Tribune, and is thought to have been brought in as a warning because of her links with the paper.

Earlier this month, Reporters Without Borders issued another statement accusing the Egyptian authorities of waging a campaign of harassment against the press throughout the month-long staggered legislative elections, in which more than 50 journalists were prevented from covering the polling and most of them were also subjected to violence by police, officials or members of the public.

“It is utterly unacceptable that so many journalists and media technicians were harassed, intimidated or beaten just because they were doing their work by shooting footage or taking photos exposing polling irregularities, the press freedom organization said. “By forbidding many TV crews to film polling stations, the Egyptian authorities deliberately prevented them from fulfilling their duty to report the news, Reporters Without Borders alleged.

Reporters Without Borders is an association that promotes freedom of the press throughout the world. The association defends journalists and other media contributors and professionals who have been imprisoned or persecuted for doing their work. It speaks out against the abusive treatment and torture that is still common practice in many countries. In Egypt, the association hopes to promote more tolerance of press, and of criticism of public figures by the press, as a means of increasing freedom of the press.

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