CAIRO: Businessman Reda Edward’s purchase of daily independent Al-Dostor newspaper is illegal, Journalists’ Syndicate board member Gamal Fahmy told Daily News Egypt on Thursday.
“The law regulating companies that publish newspapers dictates that no shareholder is allowed to own more than a 10 percent stake in the firm,” Fahmy added.
According to Fahmy, the syndicate went through the official ownership documents of Al-Dostor on Wednesday and found that Edward has not been officially registered as the company owner.
“We found out that Al-Sayed Al-Badawy is still the board chairman of the newspaper and that there is no official record of Edward as the owner,” Fahmy said.
“It’s not just an announcement in TV. The ownership transfer requires complicated procedures that may take up to four month,” he added.
Fahmy said that the syndicate will officially address Al-Badawy and Edward to object to a number of points including publishing the newspaper without a chief editor and changing the location.
“Such decisions should have been taken during the company’s general assembly meeting,” Fahmy explained.
The crisis erupted when the paper’s new owners fired its editor-in-chief Ibrahim Eissa earlier in October.
Eissa said in media statements following his sacking that the new owners had recurrently attempted to alter the paper’s editorial policy, which stirred tension between the two sides.
Since then, the new management has been publishing the newspaper from a new location without the input of the staff reporters. Edward later said that advertisers were the ones who called for firing Eissa.
The reporters were quick to show full support of their editor, refusing to work for the new management without Eissa.
A few days following the crisis, Al-Badawy reportedly sold his shares in Al-Dostor to Edward, making him the main owner and decision-maker.
The syndicate said it will inform the Higher Press Council of violations committed regarding the Al-Dostor deal.
However, Fahmy accused the council head Safwat El-Sherif, also the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), of being involved in the crisis.
“The council is believed to be behind the whole crisis in a bid to end [an outspoken newspaper like] Al-Dostor… ahead of parliamentary elections,” Gamal noted.
Earlier this week, the new executive chief editor Ayman Sharaf held a press conference where he announced that about 75 percent of reporters resumed working for the newspaper.
However, assistant chief editor Mohamed Fawzy told Daily News Egypt: “None of us worked on the recent issues of Al-Dostor.”
“We have maintained our open strike inside the syndicate where we sign in and out in attendance sheets [to prove commitment],” Fawzy added.
Earlier this week, Edward said he sent official warnings to the staff reporters ordering them to resume work or else they would be fired. However, the journalists denied receiving such warnings in a statement published on the newspaper’s official website.
The reporters have been using the Al-Dostor’s website as their platform to make announcements and publish statements in response to any allegations made by the new management.