- DemocracyHuman Rights
- May 20, 2010
- 114 minutes read
ANHRI 2009 Report, Freedom of Expression in Egypt 2009
“They threatened my brothers and sisters to be expelled from their jobs”.
Not only that they will be fired , but they would be arrested if they even spoke of this threat as well. After the threat, they asked me to write a promise to stay away of politics especially 6th April movement. Moreover they asked me to declare regret of ever joining 6th April movement
to the press
6th April movement member.
ACNOWLEDGEMENT and FORWARD
This is ANHRI’s third annual report on the status of freedom of expression and opinion.
The report material was mainly prepared by ANHRI legal aid unit for freedom of expression support , headed by Rawda Ahmed, the lawyer, in collaboration with the unit lawyers : Ali Atef and Mohamed Mahmoud and with the cooperation of ANHRI’s legal counselors , Taher Abu ElNasr and Hamdy AlAssiuoty.
Special thanks to fellow lawyers who played an important part in developing ANHRI legal aid unit for freedom of expression support , Hoda Nasrallah and Ahmed Omar
Ebtsam Ta’alab , a journalist and Bisan Odwan, a researcher, took the effort to edit this report.
Freedom of Opinion and Expression , Egypt 2009
Facts and Figures
Egypt’s Population 81,000,000
Number of registered journalists at the syndicate 5500
Number of journalists syndicates 1
Licensed newspapers and magazines 160
E-papers and e- magazines 63
Cases pertaining to freedom of expression tallied by ANHRI 520
Communiqués pertaining to freedom of expression filed by ANHRI 15
Investigations opened for ANHRI communiqués 4
Cases followed up by ANHRI legal aid unit 148
Court hearings attended by ANHRI legal aid unit lawyers 420
Investigations attended by ANHRI legal aid unit lawyers 40
Prison visits made by AHNRI legal aid unit lawyers 20
Total fines amount as documented by AHNRI legal aid LE 322,500
Largest fine sentenced LE 50,000
Smallest fine sentenced LE 200
In form , the Egyptian constitution includes provisions that comply with International covenants asserting basic rights such as freedom of opinion and expression as well as the freedom of press and media. However , reality brings in some laws ,namely the emergency law ,that contains articles and measures that inhibits and criminalizes enjoyers of freedom of expression and opinion. Emergency law articles give authorities the right to suspend newspapers indefinitely , seize issues or even set hardly possible conditions to issue newspapers.
Journalists, bloggers and writers do not only suffer security and restrictive laws , but the religious authority as well . With all its institutes , the religious authority is equally as violent and dangerous as is the state authority. The religious authority has, over the years, gained accumulated moral and legal influence strong enough to monitor all kinds of intellectual creativity. Regarding the relation between political and religious authorities, and their interchanging of censorship roles, it is extremely hard for any creator to excel in such an oppressive climate.
The annual report issued by ANHRI, details all types of pursuit and violations which bloggers , journalists and creators in general have endured in 2009. Examples are prison sentences, travel ban, fining or detention. In addition, journalist registration rejection at the syndicate has become a common trend for many past years. The report also presents some prison sentences as an example for the suffering of opinion owners in Egypt.
This reports contains four chapters representing the main stops affecting the right to express in Egypt. ANHRI regrets to say that the Egyptian prosecution authority has joined the list of institutes impeding the enjoyment of this right by ignoring communiqués filed from opinion owners’ side and on the other hand responding promptly to communiqués filed from officials against opinion owners.
Apart from the main stops , the report includes the many violations against freedom of expression regarding the violation in essence irrespective of the violated individual or entity, some of the acquittal sentences accounted for by ANHRI and statements of some legal experts regarding their posts as legal counselors for sued newspapers.
ANHRI concludes the report with some recommendations which are but advices to support society right before journalists’ in a climate that respects freedom of expression and protects all those involved in this vital field.
ANHRI Executive Director
Main Stops Affecting Freedom of Expression In Egypt
Main Stops Affecting Freedom of Expression In Egypt
The political situation of 2009 and had several impacts on journalists, bloggers and human rights activists. Year 2009 started by the Israeli war on Gaza , during which a series of violations were committed against journalists, bloggers and activists.
First Stop : Continued Prosecution Of Journalists Before Criminal Courts
Six years ago, Egyptians journalists welcomed the presidential promise to abolish imprisonment in publication cases, yet imprisonment and criminal trials are still a hovering threat .Threats against journalists in Egypt range from heavy fines and prison sentences to closure of newspapers . Of those sentences we mention :
1 – Replacing prison sentences with fine sentences against the four editors Adel Hammouda Al Fagr newspaper, Ibrahim Eissa of ElDostor, Wael Ibrashi of Sowt AlUmma, and Abdel Halim Kandil of ElKarama. They were sentenced to for a year in prison on 13/9/2007. On appeal, the court of misdemeanors Appeals of Agouza altered the sentence to a fine of LE 20,000 for each on 31/1/2009 to be final and to become final and enforceable.
The total accusations against the four editors reached 12 charges, among which were the following
? Defamation of the president and NDP leaders
? Dissemination of false news and data as well as rumors and endorsing malicious inflammatory propaganda that would disturb public security , terrorize people and harm public interest.
2 – A court decision for a police officer to fine Sawt AlUmma newspaper LE 45,000 in an insult and libel case on 5 5 2009, along with a fine of LE 50,000 against Essam Ismail Fahmy, chairman, after being accused of tax evasion and sentencing him to three years in jail on 2 7 2009.
3 – Not only that Qasr ElNil court confiscated creative work and stopped its publication or circulation by issuing a decree to confiscate the first graphic novel in Egypt r on 2111 2009 , but it fined the author and publisher as well. The fine amounted to LE 5000 for each of Magdi El Shafei , the author , and Mohamed Sharkawy ,director of the publishing house, Malameh, in a case of possessing and distributing of publications contrary to public morals
Second Stop: Extensive Travel Ban And Illegal Detention
During the year, many activists and bloggers were stopped at the airport by illegal travel ban and arrest warrants. Examples are :
1 – In November 2009, Ayman Nour chairman of Ghad party was detained at Cairo airport and was stopped from traveling to the United States to address the council of foreign relations. The ban was due to a warrant issued by the prosecutor general, claiming that Nour has not served his term on the case known as “AlTowkillat” (the proxies) .
2 – Mid June 2009, the journalist Abdel Moneim Monieb of ElDostor was banned from travel. He was arrested at Cairo airport by SSI officers and detained for 45 minutes . He missed his plane to Lebanon to be interviewed on a TV show about his book, Map of the Islamic Movements in Egypt, published by ANHRI. The officer in charge wrote off his departure stamp and seized his passport.
3 – On 29 6 2009 , security authorities at Cairo airport detained the blogger Wael Abbas on his arrival from Sweden, for six hours. According to Abbas , his passport was seized and after a sit in at the airport he got it back .However , security seized his laptop to be allegedly checked by censorship of artistic works authority and he did not get it back so far.
Stopping Abbas and harassing him at the airport has become the norm. All communiqués to the prosecutor general failed to deter police officers.
Third Stop : Merger And Closure Of Some Newspapers
The closure of some newspapers and merger of others in state press institutes was a direct impact of the international financial crisis that hit some of the independent and partisan media institutions. In all cases , journalists and staff were the ones who paid the price. Some have had their salaries reduced , others were fired. Some were laid off as a result of newspaper closure or merger thereby were denied registration at the syndicate . Whether fired or laid off , journalists were denied delayed payments and compensation.
1 – The merger of Dar AlShaab with Al-Ahram and Dar ElTaawon with AlAkhbar as per the decision of Shura Council at the end of May 2009, called arbitrary acts on many journalists such as firing 12 journalists of AlMassa’eya newspaper after merger with AlAkhbar .The fired journalists staged protest stands and were severely abused by security then. Another form of abuse was when the administration of the newspapers drove a wedge between colleagues turning them against one another so that everyone would make their way to the administration in order to keep their job.
2 – Early April 2009, AlBadeel , the independent newspaper closed down by a board decision as a result of the financial crisis. AlBadeel journalists staged a twenty day sit in at AlBadeel premises demanding the board to make a clear statement of the status quo. The board was not responsive to the staff , so they held up a protest stand at the syndicate on 2/6/2009. During the stand, a board decision was taken to liquidate the newspaper for good without any compensation for the staff.
Fourth Stop : Denial The Right To Join The Syndicate ,The Only Union For Journalists.
With the increasing violations of media institutions against journalists, the registration problem arouse and the protest stands at the syndicate staged more frequently by registered and unregistered journalists demanding union coverage and protection amid intransigence of the union board and reluctance to resolve problematic situations resulting from mergers and closures.
1 – In March 2009, journalists from various newspapers : AlAlam AlYoum, Nahdet Misr and AlGhad newspapers demonstrated in protest to the refusal of the syndicate registration committee to register them. Many of them filed cases in the administrative court and sued the syndicate head in order to bind him to register journalists. The hearing was on 09/27/2009 and the court forwarded the case to the state litigation authority to develop its report and the case is still pending so far.
2 – The registration committee ignored many complaints from reporters of AlBadeel newspaper ,after its closure. Although some of them had final court orders to be registered at the syndicate on, but the syndicate would not implement so far.
Fifth Stop: Bloggers And State .. Mutual Animosity
Repressive practices, launched by security services against bloggers, have turned the relationship bloggers state in Egypt to mutual enmity. The state continues to commit greater violations, ongoing attacks, arrests and harassing bloggers on travel . Bloggers continue to expose these practices in their blogs using sharp and cruel words.
Some incidents of security violations against bloggers:
1 – Abduction of Diaa AlDin Gad, owner of the blog “Sowt Ghadeb” in February 2009, for reporting on his blog on how Egyptian security treated the Palestinian people at the Rafah crossing during the Israeli war on Gaza. Diaa was brutally attacked at SSI premises in Cairo before SSI announced Diaa’s detention location in Qata prison where he was detained as political prisoner . He was released in March 2009.
2 – Blogger Mohamed Adel known as Ameed Mayet, (Brigadier Dead) was arrested and accused of joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood group. He was detained for 110 days, from November 2008 until March 2009.The Arabic Network filed a lawsuit against the interior ministry demanding the declaration of Adel’s detention place as well as a compensation of LE 1,000,000. Despite Adel has been released, the case is still in court.
3 – Blogger Rami Swayssi owner of the blog Ayez Haki, was abducted in March 2009. As a result of the campaign launched by the Arabic Network and some bloggers Rami was released quickly. However , the prosecution did not proceed with the investigation in the abduction incident so far.
4 – The continued detention of the Christian blogger Hani Nazeer ,owner of the blog ,”Karz AlHob” despite receiving numerous release orders from the supreme state security emergency court. Hani was arrested in October 2008, and is currently detained in Borg AlArab prison in Alexandria.
5 – Abduction of Philip Rizk ,owner of blog Tabboulet Gaza, on 6/2/2009 during participating in Gaza March . Security searched Philip’s house and seized papers ,video tapes and cameras .As a result of the campaign that exposed the kidnapping , Philip was released after four days and he got his belongings back as well. However, prosecution also did not proceed with investigating the complaint submitted by the Arabic Network regarding the abduction incident till today.
Sixth Stop: Forming Alternative Journalists’ Unions
Despite the poor state of freedom of expression in Egypt, journalists’ unions and leagues have emerged apart from the official syndicate in 2009 such as “Egyptian Journalists’ Association” and “Reports without Rights” to defend journalists’ substantial rights and to support unregistered journalists who are frequently accused of impersonating as journalists which makes them liable to prison and fining.
1 – Egyptian Journalists’ Association :
It was formed late April 2009. Many registered and unregistered journalists joined in to improve their working conditions present their economic and social status which affects their performance. The association would also attend to detained , arrested or fined journalists as a result of publishing material or contributing in public protests.
2 – Reporters Without Rights:
An assembly founded by Radwan Adam and Amr Badr of AlDostor daily ,in October 2009 to defend journalists’ rights and uncover their suffering and struggles within the partisan , independent or national press institutions.
3 – Association of Reporters Without Syndicate:
Announced by a group of journalists in Alexandria in early 2009, aiming to bring together bloggers and e-writers and intending to “purify the press work climate from mediocre , to develop skills of members of the press profession and help set up an entity to adopt their demands in housing, health care or subsidy, along with the formation of a committee to assess the independent press performance and a committee for periodic evaluation of journalists”.
Seventh Stop: Public Prosecution Singles Out Freedom Of Expression
Impunity, a phenomenon evolving in Egypt for many years, especially in torture cases. Lately, this phenomenon extended to include violators of freedom of expression as well as is directly proportional with the frequency and severity of violations against journalists, bloggers and opinion activists in Egypt.
In most cases, the violated journalist or blogger either in person or through his lawyers, seeking justice and equity, heads for the prosecutor general’s Office in Cairo or to prosecutor’s offices in court buildings all over Egypt to make a complaint of a violation incident .
Many of these communiqués either remain just an entry on the prosecutor’s offices lists, or are concluded, while many of the reports and complaints made against any journalist or writer, are often processed quickly. Surprisingly, the journalist or blogger find themselves called in for an accusation. The investigation is at times enough to deliver the message of intimidation. The journalist can be more surprised to discover he has been sentenced in absentia without being notified. Then he would have to go to court and apply for an opposition to the sentence and request to reopen the case.
Examples of communiqués where justice was not served as far as journalists or bloggers are concerned:
1 – In February 9th , 2009, the legal aid unit for freedom of opinion and expression of the Arab network filed a communiqué to the prosecutor general, demanding an investigation into the incident where four police officers arrested the blogger Diaa AlDin Gad on Feb. 6th and abused him in front of his house, in Kotor city, Gharbia . Then they escorted him to an unknown location in a police vehicle .
ANHRI lawyers headed twice to the prosecutor general’s and briefed him on Gad’s detention place at SSI Head Quarters in Lazoghly , Cairo. The reluctance of the public prosecution to investigate gave SSI time to discipline Gad and move him to Qata prison in Giza. Though Gad was released a month later, the prosecution did call in his captors yet.
2 – On February 6th , 2009, the blogger and film director ,Philip Rizk, was abducted during participation in the march to Gaza. Despite submitting a complaint of the abduction to the prosecutor general and though the prosecutor general personally knew of Philip’s detention location and that SSI raided Philip’s house and seized some belongings , the investigation lead to nothing. Philip got his things back and the abduction crime was overlooked and no one was held accountable for it.
3 – On April 11th , 2009, despite that ANHRI submitted a complaint to the prosecutor general on abducting the internet activist Ahmed Alaa, and then reporting the incident to the attorney general of Zagazig on April 22nd , the prosecution took no action. This made SSI bargain with Alaa, offering to release him if he would waive the complaint. Although Alaa was released on April 27th , no one called in his abductors who are still at large having a free hand in Zagazig where they are on for continued illegal arrests.
4 – In April 2007, the Arabic Network filed a complaint to the prosecutor general on the crime of assault on intellectual property committed by Judge Abdel Fattah Mourad. Mourad reproduced dozens of pages of ANHRI’s report on the Internet in the Arab World “Unyielding Adversary” and published them in a commercial book without mentioning the source. Prosecution started an investigation, but it has been left pending.
Although prosecution has processed the malicious communiqués from Mourad against Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network and the bloggers Manal Bahii and Alaa Seif of insult and libel and although all three were acquitted twice, once at first instance and again at appeal at the end of June 2009 , the prosecution did not act on the Arabic Network communiqué against Mourad so far.
5 – In May 2009, lawyers of the Arabic Network headed to visit the bloggers Kareem Amer and Hani Nazeer in Borg AlArab prison in Alexandria. They had all official visit permits issued by the Public Prosecutor’s and the detainees affairs office . Yet the prison officials refused to conduct the visit .
The Arabic Network filed a complaint to the prosecutor general. Naturally , the prosecution did not act and of course the complaint was not processed. This encouraged the prison officers to reject three successive visits without being penalized ,leaving Kareem and Hani prisoners deprived of lawyer visit.
6 – In June 2008, lawyers of the legal aid unit for freedom of expression at the Arabic Network on behalf of the journalist Kamal Mourad ,filed a complaint at the prosecutor general’s against the three officers :Mohammad Badrawi chief of investigations at Giza Security Department, Amr Allam, chief of investigations at Rahmaniya police station, Beheira and Mohamed Bassiouni ,investigation officer at Rahmaniya police station, Beheira , accusing them of assaulting Kamal , seizing his belongings during filming a police attack on the peasants in Izbet Moharram in Rahmaniya ,Beheira.
For his surprise, Kamal found himself accused of assaulting the officers , brought to trial and sentenced to imprisonment of six months and a fine. Naturally, his complaint against the officers was totally overlooked.
Various Violations Against Freedom Of Expression
Various Violations Against Freedom Of Expression
“From bad to worse runs the course of freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt, towards more restrictions , denouncements and trials. Any journalist in Egypt , no matter how distinguished , is not far from being tried and being liable to imprisonment, for disclosure of facts which officials were so keen to conceal from the public and for exercising the press profession which all international legislations provided for its sanctity and respect “.
First: Financial Penalties
1 – Late January 2009, the press society in Egypt was surprised to learn that the sentence on the four editors Adel Hammouda of Al Fagr newspaper, Ibrahim Eissa of ElDostor, Wael Ibrashi of Sowt AlUmma, and Abdel Halim Kandil of ElKarama ,formerly, in the case of publishing false news, insulting and defaming NDP leaders has been changed from one year imprisonment and a fine of LE 10000 to a fine of LE 20000 for each.
The sentence was considered by the journalistic community and human rights as harshly muzzling to the private press with modest financial resources. Human rights organizations called on civil society to support journalists by raising money to pay the fine .
In February 2009, Giza criminal court sentenced Yasser Barakat, editor of AlMogaz to a fine of LE 40,000 in a libel case filed by Mustafa Bakri, editor of AlIsboaa weekly and an MP . On 22/1/2008, Barakat, published a reportage where he criticized Bakri. Bakri filed a press misdemeanor in chamber 14 at Giza criminal court accusing Barakat of insult and libel. On 24/6/2008 the court ruled in another case against Barakat sentencing him to 6 months in prison and fining him LE 20,000.
2 – In June 2009 Cairo Criminal Court referred five journalists accused of violating the publishing ban decision in the murder of the Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim to Sayda Zeinab misdemeanor court : Magdy AlGallad editor of Al Masry Al Youm , Yousri AlBadri and Farouk ElDesouki journalists, Abbas Tarabily editor of AlWafd and Ibrahim Qoraa, a journalist .
The court ruled a fine of LE10,000 for each of them. National newspapers, despite violating the same publishing ban were not subject to any legal accountability.
3 – In February 2009, the court of Abdin’s fined Khalid Albalshi editor of AlBadeel and the journalist Mohamed Mabrouk LE 10,000 in the suit, filed against them by Major Ihab Shams chief of investigations dept of Kafr ElZayat accusing them of insult and libel. Abdin court of appeals refused Albalshi’s opposition to the ruling which was issued in absentia.
4 – On 5/5/2009, the court fined Sowt AlUmma newspaper LE 45,000 in the case filed by the investigation department assistant of Hadayek ElKobba against the editor for reporting on a police officer raiding a citizen’s house and abusing him.
6 – On 2/7/2009, the misdemeanor appeasl court fined Essam Ismail Fahmi, chairman of Sowt AlUmma and AlDostor independent papers LE50,000 in a case of tax evasion. The first instance fine sentenced was abolished by a resolution in appeal to imprison Fahmy three years and bind him to a bail of LE 6,000 to suspend the imprisonment.
7 – Things were no different outside Cairo ,the court of misdemeanors of Damanhur sentenced Zuhdi AlShami, editor of Bahraweya paper issued by AlTagamoa party in Damanhour ,Radwa Mahmoud Abu Zeid and Mahmoud AlDwyer to a fine of LE 300 each in the lawsuit filed against them by the journalist Said Hassan accusing the editor of hiring unregistered journalists and accusing Mahmoud and Radwa of impersonating journalists.
8 – Ahmed Ezz and Shahinaz ElNaggar , NDP MPs , filed a lawsuit against Adel Hammouda, editor of AlFagr weekly, and Nassif, Cosman, chairman accusing them of violating the sanctity of private life. On 26/12/2009, the court sentenced Adel Hammouda ,Nassif, Cosman and a journalist of AlFagr to a fine of LE 10,000.
9 – Investigation Department Assistant of Mit Ghamr filed a lawsuit against Ayman Ismail, a journalist of AlAhaly weekly after Ayman reported on the assistant cruelty with citizens under the title (God is forgiving but Mit Ghamr police is not ). The reportage also included testimonies of victims of torture. On 3/2/2009, the court ruled on the misdemeanor case #3191/2009 to fine Ayman LE 5,000 in addition to tribunal expenses. The case was forwarded to the competent court.
10 – Ibrahim Nafie, former chairman of AlAhram, filed a law suit against Ahmed AlNaggar, an economist for having published an article in AlDostor where he claimed Nafie was the cause of corruption and chaos during chairing AlAhram which Nafie considered insult and libel. On 30/1/2010, the court of Boulaq Abul Ella fined Naggar LE 20,000 and an additional LE10,000 as a civil compensation for Nafie.
11- The lawyer Magdy Anwar Abdel Khalek, sued Hamdin Sabbahi editor of AlKarama weekly and MP, Hamed Gabr, chairman of the newspaper, claiming a compensation of LE 500,000 for physical and moral damages as the paper published reportages titled “Lawyer threatening a dozen peasants with fake receipts and ” AlKarama retrieved the lost right of twelve innocents”.
The court of first instance of Shebin Elkoum , ninth chamber, compelled the defendants to pay LE 2,000 to the claimant in May, 2009. Both parties appealed to the sentence. The case is currently in court.
12 – AlFiqi family filed a misdemeanor libel case at Madinet Nasr court against Shahenda Maklad, a writer and political activist , Sherine Abul Naga, writer, and Mohamed Hashim, owner of Merit publishing house about the book ” From Shahenda Maklad’s papers”.
In July 2007, court of misdemeanors of Nasr City sentenced Maklad to six month probation ,a fine of LE10,0000 and acquitted the second and third defendants. After submitting an appeal and on 24/2/2009, the appeal court canceled the imprisonment and upheld the LE 10,000 fine.
13 – In April 2008, Colonel Ahmed Salem ,inspector at the general department for disciplines protection ,sued Magdi El Shafei the author of Metro novel and Mohamed El-Sharkawi ,the publisher, claiming that the novel contains projections on the internal situation of the country as well as some text that he claimed offensive to public decency.
Kasr El Nil misdemeanors court reviewed the case throughout the year and on 21/11/2009 ruled to confiscate the novel and fined the author and the publisher LE 5,000 for each.
14 – Fawzi Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Arabic union for oil workers, miners and chemists and Head of the General Union of oil workers filed an insult and libel misdemeanor case against Hasan Rashidi, editor of AlMassaeya and Farouk Luke, journalist. In February, 2009, each was fined LE 10,000 and both were bound to pay LE 5,001 to the prosecutors as a civil compensation.
Al Massaeya published a report titled “Union of Arabic oil accuses Genedy of seize land ” accusing the prosecutor of seizing land owned by the Union without paying rent and asked him to pay LE 10,000,000. On 27/5/2009, the misdemeanor appeal Court of Qasr ElNil, upheld the first degree sentence.
15 – On December 16th , 2009 the court of misdemeanor appeals in Rahmaniyah accepted an appeal submitted by ANHRI legal aid unit for freedom of opinion and expression in the case against the journalist Kamal Mourad of AlFagr newspaper , accused of assaulting police officers, in form. In subject, the court endorsed the first degree sentence and bound Mourad to a LE 200 fine.
On 17/6/2008, some police officers arrested Kamal Murad, after having made a reportage with some peasants in Izbet Muharram in Rahmaniyah, Beheira. Mourad took pictures of police officers beating farmers and forcing them to sign new leases with a landowner. Police officers assaulted Kamal Murad and verbally abused him.
After being detained for three hours , Murad was surprised to find himself accused of assaulting police officers and inciting the peasants against security.
6 – On 13/8/2007 Gaber Asfour published an article in Al Ahram newspaper under the title “All Intellectuals, Unite! ” in which he criticized Sheikh Youssuf AlBadri, describing him as an enemy of thought, culture and creativity and that he is a neo actio popularis team member , that he was disastrous to the community and was behind the issuance of the court sentence against the poet Ahmed Abdel Muti Hijazi. The article described the court sentence as a disaster and a shame to the Egyptian culture and that it was a rule of Inquisition.
So, Youssuf AlBadri filed a lawsuit against Asfour under the number 2393/2007 in North Giza court . On 20/12/2008, the court issued the sentence against Asfour and AlAhram newspaper to pay together a compensation of LE 50,000 to Sheikh Yusuf AlBadri. Asfour and AlAhram appealed to the sentence. The first appeal hearing was set on 24/2/2009. The case was reviewed in several sessions. On 25/12/2009, the appeal court accepted the appeal in form and in subject and upheld the first instance sentence
Second: Prison Sentences and Detention
1 – Late 2009, the misdemeanors court of Dokki sentenced in absentia to one year imprisonment and a LE 200 bail to suspend the sentence each of : Mohamed Ahmed Omar , owner of Al Haytham Constructions, the prominent journalist Salama Ahmed Salama, editor of AlShorouk daily and Saber Mashour head of incidents section , accusing the first of hoax, second and third of insult and libel.
As published in AlShorouk on 31/3/2009, Omar was arrested in a bribery incident along with some involved officials at the ministry of housing. Eighteen officials at the ministry filed a case against Salama accusing him of insult and libel.
2 – On 3/3/2009, the misdemeanors court of Hadayek ElQobba sentenced in absentia AlAhrar weekly staff : Salah Qabadaya ,chairman , Essam Kamel director and Alaa Shebl , journalist to one month imprisonment , a bail of LE100 and an interim compensation of LE 501 in the misdemeanor hoax # 27375 /2008 filed by the general authority for health
insurance due to publishing a “false reportage” , according the claimant referring to the law regulating the press of 1996.
3 – Early January 2010, the misdemeanor court of Sayeda Zeinab sentenced Abdo Maghrabi editor of ElBalagh weekly and Ihab AlAjami , a journalist to one year in prison and a LE 20,000 bail in addition to a LE 45,000 binding civil compensation for the actors Hamdi AlWazeer and Khaled Abulnaga and Semiramis Hotel.
The court forwarded Nour AlSherif’s compensation case claiming LE 10 million to the competent civil court. Maghrabi and AlAjami were both convicted of tainting the reputation of all three actors.
4 – The journalist Kamal Mourad of AlFagr, was brought to trial for allegedly insulting a public officer (police officer) while on duty .On 15/3/2009, he was sentenced to six months in prison and a LE 100 bail. Mourad has previously published information on the incident of torturing a citizen ,Emad AlKabir, by the police officer, Islam Nabih, who was sentenced to three years. Mourad has been a target for security harassment since then.
Third: Military Sentences Against Journalists
It was striking in 2009 to bring civilians to courts martial. On February 4th , Magdi Hussein, former editor of AlShaab weekly, stood before a military court on charges of infiltration to Gaza ,after the Israeli war cease fire at the end of January without a permit in the context of solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people. Magdi was arrested by Egyptian authorities upon his arrival to Rafah crossing returning from Gaza. Investigations were carried out at Arish military prosecution’s, which issued a resolution, to forward him to the military court in Ismailia as per the presidential decree # 298 / 95.
On 11/2/2009, the military court sentenced him to two years in jail and fined him LE 5,000. The appeal submitted by his lawyer based on the illegality of trying civilians before military courts was rejected. On the contrary, the military court of cassation upheld the first instance sentence on 7/8/2009.
Fourth : Control and Confiscation
1 – On 5/1/2009, security paused the printing of Sawt AlUmma issue objecting to the editorial of AbdelHalim Kandil, editor in chief at the time, along with an interview with the Muslim Brotherhood leader, which was sharply critic of the performance of the Egyptian government. Kandil was surprised to learn that the printing was paused for security reasons and the issue was not released until his editorial was omitted .
AlBalagh AlGadid was confiscated three times in 2009. The first time was when the Head of the publications and foreign press authority opposed to the content of issue #29 and finally the issue was not printed. The second time, the ministry of interior seized issue # 35 as it contained serious information about Hezbollah in Egypt, according to a statement published by the newspaper on 1/4/2009. The third time was seizing issue #50 on 3/8/2009, because it contained a file on violations of the rights of the Egyptian detainees in the prison of Dammam in Saudi Arabia.
2 – Censorship on publications authority paused printing the eighth issue of Sharea AlSahafa on 19/4/ 2009 because it addressed succession. The publications and foreign press authority refused releasing the issue due to reservations on the file reporting on succession in Egypt.
3 – On 16/3/2010, an article for Salama Ahmed Salama in AlAhram was rejected due to the dispute that erupted between Mursi Atallah, chairman of Al Ahram and a number of reporters after the chairman has issued a decision to prohibit any media work outside AlAhram .
4 – Confiscation of the novel , Metro, for allegedly containing text contrary to public morals, and fining the author, after Kasr ElNil misdemeanor court fined Magdi ElShafei the publisher , on 21/11/2009, accused of making and distribution of publications contrary to public morals.
5 – In May 2009 the Egyptian security authorities confiscated the book “The flood of corruption and bin Laden in Algeria,” prepared by the Algerian writer, Anwar Malek. The book deals with the involvement of some Algerian officials and their children in corruption incidents in Algeria. The book was seized after having been printed by Oktob publication and distribution house in Cairo, with a registration number 26518/2009 at the Library of Egypt. In his letter to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information Anwar said “the book was printed already, but was seized by the state security in the distributor warehouse. SSI warned the publisher of reprinting , and threatened him to close down the publication house if he leaked any news to the media! “.
Fifth : Newspapers and Magazines License Suspension
1 – In April 2009 , the court ruled to withdraw the license of Ibdaa magazine issued by the General Book Authority according to a case filed by an attorney against Ahmed Abdel Muti Hijazi, chairman of the magazine. In winter 2007 ,the magazine published a poem for Helmi Salem that allegedly abuse the divine entity . After challenging the court decision , and in June 2009, the administrative court ruled for the magazine to reissue.
2 – Publications and foreign press authority rejected the issuance of a license for Scouts newspaper . A lawsuit was filed against the legal representative of the authority , the prime minister and minister of information. The first hearing was on 1/4/2009. On December 19th , 2009, the administrative court ruled to stop implementation of the decision of the authority to reject the newspaper and asserted that press freedom must not be compromised.
3 – The supreme press council suspended the license of the newspaper Alaahd Algadid (New Testament). On 4/9/2008, a lawsuit was filed at the administrative court demanding to suspend the decision of the supreme press council. The case is currently in court.
4 – Censorship on publications paused printing of the eighth issue of Sharea AlSahafa on 19/4/ 2009 because it addressed succession. The publications and foreign press authority refused releasing the issue due to reservations on the file reporting on succession in Egypt. It is a paper with a foreign license to evade restrictions on local newspapers and yet one of its issues was banned, simply banned without giving reasons.
5 – The supreme press council decided to cancel the license of AlZohour magazine on March 9th , 2009 after receiving a letter from the general investment authority canceling the founding certificate of AlResala for press and publishing for violating the company’s terms of incorporation.
A lawsuit was filed against the minister of investment , the general investment authority , the minister of foreign trade and industry , head of the commercial registration, chairman of the supreme press council and the secretary general of the supreme press council .
On 21/2/2009 the administrative court , investment chamber , ruled to halt implementation of the decision and forward the case to examination of appeals chamber .The lawsuit is currently before the council of commissioners.
6 – A neo actio popularis team member, demanded to suspend the licensing of AlMogaz newspaper and suspend the syndicate membership of all journalists working there. In the law suit filed before the administrative court , the claimant requested to suspend the newspaper and lay off the journalists. On 17/1/2009, the court rejected the case for irrelevance of the claimant.
Sixth: Neo Actio Popularis Team Plays Religious And Political Hesba Game:
1 – Thoraya Abdel Hamid Sayed Labanah , head of union of the social counselors, filed a criminal case against Saad ElDin Ibrahim on charges of disseminating false news abroad before Khalifa misdemeanor court . In December 2008 , the court declared incompetence and forwarded the case to Maadi court , setting a verdict hearing in May 2009. Maadi court rejected the case for irrelevance of the claimant .
2 – On 14/5/2009, Mohammed Abu Krisha , NDP MP filed a communiqué to the public prosecutor against Sayed Abd El Aati, editor of Sawt AlUmma and Essam Ismail Fahmy, chairman of the board for allegedly defaming the president in an article entitled “Talk which the president does not want to hear ” that contained text which the claimant considered an insult to the president and libel in bad faith.
3 – On July 24th , 2009 Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Hafez, leader of the movement “Moaydoon” ( Pro ) filed a communiqué to the public prosecutor against Abdel Halim Kandil, accusing him of inciting the people to rebellion because of an article published in Sawt AlUmma on July 14th . This was after the speech of Kandil in the mourning of Abdel Wahab El Messeri . The speech was published in AlDostor where Kandil called on the national forces to unite in a national front for change.
Seventh: Prosecution On Comments On Internet Sites
1 – Internet crimes police department of the interior ministry called in editor of AlBadeel daily , Khald Albalshi on September 6th , 2009 for investigation about comments posted on his blog. On the blog ,Balshi had posted an article of his that was previously published in AlDostor . A citizen filed a complaint against Balshi claiming that one of the comments on the blog responding to the article is considered insult and libel against him.
Balshi published details of the incident on September 7th , 2009 on Facebook where he said:
“The summoning warrant was sent to my brother’s in Menoufia last Thursday after the smart guys of the interior ministry failed to know my current residence which is right across the ministry building in Lazoghly square!!
I decided to go on Saturday morning .. especially after I learned from a colleague that the reason for calling me was about some of my activities on the internet, which were very limited recently with the exception of some posts on Facebook that pertain to AlBadeel crisis . This made me really curious to pay those smart guys a visit.
I went on Saturday morning and after the usual security measures , which began by leaving my press card at the gate then I got my hands sprayed for swine flu. I had to take the stairs to the 7th floor because the elevator was “down”. I entered a room where I saw three officers in civilian clothes, all colonels.
After I introduced myself , I asked them for the reason for calling me in. I was surprised to learn that the reason is that someone complained about a comment on my blog, which really made me laugh. When I requested to see the complaint and comment I was surprised to find it was sent from an anonymous to the president and was posted as comment more than 8 times on my blog. The problematic part for me was that the complaint accused named persons of corruption and the drug dealing and involvement in illicit relations with female public employees whose names were also listed.
The complaint did not contain any evidence of the posted allegations. This means that either it is a real compla
int that needs evidence before being published or a malicious complaint aiming at tainting the reputation of certain people . The third possibility is that it is an attempt to undermine me personally .This inner feeling was supported by the fact that the comment was published on an old topic in addition to that the complaint date was far earlier than the deadline of complaint submission which gave me no chance to respond to the comment on the internet.
I notified the officer who briefed me on the nature of the complaint of that fact, and he followed by a rhetoric about accusation of innocent people. I did not even imagine that this is the reason for which I was called in. I asked him to give me time to check the whole thing out and told him I would not go through any formal investigation without a lawyer. In this situation is better to run the investigation before the prosecution and not in the interior ministry . I told him I will handle the issue while he can go on with his procedures which ever way he wanted.
“Do you best on that!” , I told the officer . After they corrected some information about my address , they told me that there was complaint against Tadamon site and asked me if I knew the administrators to which I negatively responded and left”.
2 – Amr Abdel Ghani Abdel Raouf ,security director of the public company Petrotrade filed a communiqué against against Gamal Eid, Executive Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information accusing him of insult and libel because of a comment that was posted on Humum web site affiliate of the Arabic Network . Humum is concerned with citizens’ complaints in search of solutions. One complaint received an anonymous comment accusing Petrotrade manager of several irregularities. The public prosecution ran an investigation then decided to conclude the communiqué on October 3rd , 2009, stating that Gamal Eid was not accountable for the incident.
Eighth: Pre-Trial Detention In State Security Cases
1- On 23/4/2009, SSI broke into the house of blogger Ahmed Mohsen in Fayoum and searched it. Though they were surprised to learn that the blogger had moved to work in Minya months ago and has nothing to do with Fayoum, yet the officer Amr Alhumaili, did not want to look bad in front of his superiors as he failed to have correct information and all his investigations were apparently false. Amr called the blogger on the phone and asked him to come to Fayoum or else ” we will come and get you”. Mohsen went to fayoum and headed to SSI prosecution where he found himself accused of :
– The use of the prevailing democratic climate to overthrow the government and
– Incitement to overthrow the government.
He was detained on April 29th , 2009, for fifteen days pending investigation in the SS case #4185. On 23/5/2009, he was released by a an order from the court of Misdemeanors in Beni Sueif.
2 – On 2/4/2009, Kafr El-Sheikh University guards and and SSI arrested two female students, Sarah Mohammed Rizk and Omnia Ali Taha. Both were insulted beaten up and tied with chains. Both have been charged with distributing leaflets calling for strike , disruption of public utilities, disturbing public peace and overthrowing the government.
The decision of the Public Prosecutor was detention renewal for another 15 days in May 2009. Finally they were bailed out on LE 1,000 for each.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said the pre-trial detention has become a punishment used by the government to punish activists.
Ninth : Abduction And Detention Under Emergency Law
1 – On 6/2/2009,Diaa AlDin Gad , owner of the blog Sowt Ghadeb, was abducted in front of his house, in Kotor city, Gharbia because of criticizing the Egyptian government performance during the war on Gaza. Later ANHRI learnt Gad was detained at SSI Head Quarters in Lazoghly , Cairo and filed a communiqué to which the prosecution did not act but advised the lawyers to check on Gad there. The campaign launched to release Gad led to issuing an arrest warrant for him and he was moved to Qata prison in Giza. Gad was released 50 days later on 27/3/2009, but the prosecution did call in his captors yet.
2 – On February 6th , 2009, the blogger and film director ,Philip Rizk, owner of blog Tabboulet Gaza was abducted during his participation in the march to Gaza. His detention place was not declared and despite ANHRI had submitted a complaint of the abduction to the prosecutor general , the investigation lead to nothing. Philip was released 4 days later after a worldwide campaign was launched to support him, even the Newsweek reported on his abduction. Moreover ,Gamal Eid was at Philip’s when SSI tried to arrest Philip’s father.
3- The Christian blogger , Hani Nazeer ,owner of the blog ,”Karz AlHob”, managed to leak a complaint to ANHRI against the prison administration. He accused them of assaulting him and registering him as a criminal detainee after ANHRI disclosed that Hani is being pressured by prison administration to switch to Islam in return for his freedom. ANHRI filed many complaints to the prosecution demanding investigations in these violations, but those complaints were totally ignored. Despite receiving numerous release orders from the supreme state security emergency court , Hani is still detained in Borg AlArab prison in Alexandria
4 – SSI raided the house of Ahmed Alaa , a student from Zagazig and a member of 6th April movement ,abducted him on April 11th , 2009 and escorted to an unknown location. Despite that ANHRI submitted several complaints to the prosecutor general on abducting the internet activist as well as many complaints to South Zagazig prosecution ,the prosecution took no action. This made SSI bargain with Alaa, threatening to “detain him” if he would not waive the complaint. Although Alaa was released on April 29th , no one called in his abductors who are still at large having a free hand in Zagazig where they are on for continued illegal arrests.
5- In November 2008, Blogger Mohamed Adel known as Ameed Mayet, (Brigadier Dead) was arrested and accused of joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood group. He was released after one month but rearrested on the same day by emergency law . He was detained for 110 days, from November 2008 until March 2009.
6 –The blogger Abdul Aziz Megahed , owner of the blog HTTP: / / ELMOGAHED02.BLOGSPOT.COM , was abducted on November 3rd , 2008. What happened to Adel happened to Megahed ,where he was surprised that the prosecution charged him with joining the Muslim Brotherhood, and decided to detain him pending investigation. He was shocked to find an arrest warrant under emergency law where he had to spend the period of detention under the emergency, before being detained pending investigation. He was released on 3/3/2009.
7 – Blogger Rami Swayssi owner of the blog Ayez Haki, was abducted on 2/3/2009 from his house at 3:00 am . SSI searched the house and seized his belongings. They escorted him in a white Toyota with plate number 403767 to an unknown location. As a result of a protest stand at the prosecutor general , Rami was released the following day. However , the prosecution did not proceed with the investigation in the abduction incident so far.
8 – Despite more than fourteen release orders from the supreme state security emergency court for Blogger Musaad Abu Fagr, owner of the blog , wedna naeesh, the interior ministry wasted these orders. Currently , Mossaad is held in Abu Zaabal prison.
Tenth : Denial Of Visit For Prisoners Of Conscience
1 – Lawyers of the legal aid unit for freedom of expression the Arabic Network had official permits from the public prosecutor to visit Kareem Amer. Mid May 2009 , lawyers waited outside Borg AlArab prison for hours in the middle of the desert of Alexandria before an SS officer received them rejecting the visit.
After a heated dispute , he returned to his superiors and then came to ANHRI lawyers once more with a strange and naïve excuse , claiming that lawyers id cards date backed to in 2008, and that they should have had the fresh ids of 2009.
ANHRI lawyers insisted on the validity of their professional ids as members of the syndicate as well as the personal id cards that prove they are lawyers , and that they have the payment receipt of membership renewal at the lawyers syndicate.
They said that receiving the new lawyers id cards is pending elections. They added that the prosecution handed them the visit permits as lawyers. However the security officer of the prison would not let them visit, he said ,” Let the UN help you!”
The officer was referring to the UN work group of arbitrary detention declaring that Kareem Amer was arbitrarily detained by the Egyptian government, a resolution clearly condemning the Egyptian government and warns the government of hiding behind the guise of the abuse of religion or insulting state officials as a means to restrict freedom of expression.
Denial of visit for the second time was in mid June 2009, when three ANHRI lawyers headed to visit Amer after obtaining a visitor’s permit issued, as usual, from the office of the attorney general in Alexandria. Assistants of the prison investigation officer ,Muhammad Ali, told the lawyers that the visit was canceled. The officer refused to meet the lawyers, despite the long trip they have made , more than 250 km to make this visit and despite having all the required permits.
As usual, the public prosecutor did not act on the communiqué #9643/2009 filed by ANHRI lawyers on 23/5/2009, after the first visit denial. This encouraged the prison officers to repeat the prevention and mock the decisions of the public prosecutor. More than a year has passed and no investigation took place or any visit to Kareem Amer has been made.
In May 2009, SS officers who control Borg AlArab prison like the rest of Egyptian prisons refused to allow ANHRI lawyers to visit the Christian Blogger Hani Nazeer, although they had official visit permits from the Office of detainees affairs. The big surprise was when they handed the permits over to the prison administration and a few minutes before the visit start they were asked : “Are you Muslims?”. Then the prison administration refused to conduct the visit. The same was repeated in August 2009, when the head of the legal aid unit for freedom of expression at ANHRI Rawda Ahmed went to visit the Hani, the prison administration refused, without giving any reasons..
Eleventh : Religious Fatwas Against Freedom Of Expression
1 – On April 6th , 2009, some members of the Islamic Research Academy volunteered to issue fatwas supportive of the ruling NDP in Egypt and against freedom of expression. The most recent Fatwa was that strikes “are religiously forbidden” . Sheikhs described the young people of April 6th movement as “saboteurs and sinners” .
2 – At the beginning of September 2009, the preacher Khalid ElGuindy who is connected to security , promoted his TV channel by a hatred rhetoric against Egyptian Baha’is in an interview published on the weekly issue of Youm7 , on 8/9/2010. The hatred speech against the Egyptian Baha’i was severely inciting against them as ElGuindy questioned their loyalty as Egyptian citizens.
3 – Al-Azhar issued a fatwa to forbid marriages in drama, as they claimed saying the vows makes marriage happen! From an allegedly religious view ,an actress can have several spouses then , her legal spouse and the many men she would marry in drama.
Twelfth: Control Over The Audio-Visual Drama Production:
1 – In June 2009, AlAzhar scholars front , in a statement, appealed to the president to stop screening of the movie ,Dokkan Shehata ,because of what the front considered as encroachment on Islamic sanctities. The statement opened the door wide for all neo actio popularis team members and enemies of art and creativity to act. One lawyer of the neo team filed a communiqué to the public prosecutor against the heroine, Haifa Wahbi, and the director, Khaled Yousef on charges of incitement to immorality and debauchery ,spreading obscenity and offending sanctities in the film.
The chiefdom of Sufi methods in Egypt acted similarly . They filed their complaint to the prosecutor general in Egypt, accusing the film of offending Sufis . The claimants did not only request banning the movie but demanded the trial of its heroes and director as well.
2 – In May 2009, the censorship over arts and filming refused to screen the movie, Taht AlNiqab ,( Beneath the veil) and accused the movie makers of insulting Islam and the Egyptian society. The film tells the story of a face veiled woman who was driven by poverty to prostitution. The script was written by Ali Abdel Ghani , the dialogue was written by Mohamed Esmat. The film director is Ali Ragab.
3 – After airing 23 episodes of Ismaa Alkhabar (Listen Up!) presented on the radio (Alshark AlAwsat radio channel)d by the renown Mahmoud Saad and written by the opposition columnist Gamal Fahmy, the production company was surprised by the minister of information bargaining to either change Gamal Fahmy, or ban the program. The program was stopped despite being quite successful.
4 – At the end of August 2009, the Egyptian information minister Anas Alfikki banned the comic TV comic production, Hokoma Show presented by the comedian Mahmoud Azab, for criticizing the PM in one of the episodes, despite the previous approval of the minister of information on the show. The show was scheduled to air in September 2009, but the producer and crew were hit with the banning decision.
Thirteenth : Stopping TV Channels Transmission and Closure Claims
1 – In July 2009, Samir Sabri, lawyer , filed a political Hesba suit against the Egyptian information minister and chairman of satellite corp. demanding to stop the broadcast of AlManar channel for allegedly broadcasting false information about Egypt. He accused the channel of it of serving the Israeli interests and carrying out the Zionist agenda . The case was in court till early January 2010.
2 – In June 2009, the administrative court considered another political Hesba case filed by the same lawyer, Samir Sabri. He demanded the minister of information to stop the broadcast of Alalam channel of Iran, claiming that, ” the channel ridicule and attacks Egyptian figures as well as the president ” Until January 2010 the case was still pending in court.
3 – In March 2009, the lawyer, Mortada Mansour, filed a lawsuit to close down AlHayat channel against the backdrop of the dispute that erupted between him and Ahmed Shobeir in the case known as the “CDs”. Mansour argued that Shobeir used to appear on AlHayat programs to verbally abuse and insult him as a former Zamalek sports club president. The case is still in court so far.
4 – On November 3rd , 2009, the administrations of both satellites Arabsat and Nilesat, cut off the broadcast of AlAlam Iranian channel. According to Ahmad Suyoufi, director of the channel office in Cairo, the Egyptian company for satellites, Nilesat, briefed him about a superior decision to cut the broadcast without giving further details. The channel was stopped in spite of the Hesba lawsuit originally filed to stop the channel transmission.
Fourteenth: Court Orders To Block Internet Sites
In December 2008, the lawyer Nizar Ghorab filed a lawsuit demanding the cancellation of the negative decision of the ministry of communications to block pornographic sites on the internet. He listed the dangers and harms of such sites, but without defining the nature of pornographic sites, whether they were the sites that contain sex films, pictures, themes or editorials. Despite the ambiguity of the case, in May 2009, the administrative court, first chamber individuals accepted the claim in form, and decided to block pornographic sites and bound the state side to all the administrative expenses. The case was forwarded to the state commissioners’ authority to prepare the legal opinion report. The case is still at the state commissioners’ authority and the verdict has not been challenged before the supreme administrative court yet.
Fifteenth : Physical Attacks On Journalists
1 – On 28/10/2009, administrative security services of Ain Shams University, assaulted the journalist, Mohamed El Bediwy of Youm7 newspaper . His belongings were seized while he was covering the protest stand of assistants and assistant teachers demanding career improvement. El Bediwy reported the incident at ElWaily police station and attached a medical report of his injuries. The police report is still at the prosecution’s so far.
2 – Early January 2009, during covering marches in solidarity with Gaza downtown , Ali Zalat of Al Masry Al Youm was assaulted and electrified several times by security forces. He was transferred to Egyptian Red Crescent hospital.
3 – Journalists suffered frequent attacks while covering the elections or meetings of the lawyers syndicate , where three journalists from Al Masry Al Youm , AlMassaeya and AlKarama were assaulted and insulted during a press conference held by the syndicate after the elections and formation of a new board in June 2009.
Another assault occurred at the end of August 2009. Hossam AlHindi of AlDostor and Farouk AlGamal of Al Masry Al Youm were attacked while covering an emergency session called by the newly elected Head of syndicate to discuss the decision to assign the members of the central syndicate to supervise of the election of syndicate branches in different cities. So, the journalist syndicate decided to boycott covering and publishing news of the lawyers syndicate after having had formally informed the Head of Lawyers syndicate of the frequent assaults on journalists.
4 – On 4/5/2009, several journalists were assaulted in front of the state council . Other were abducted in a police vehicle and were stationed in front of Dokki police station for more than 12 hours. In addition, security confiscated the cell phone of the journalist Seham Shwada and deleted all the images saved on it. Seham and Karim Mohammad Reda filed a communiqué to the prosecutor general and reported the assault incident at Dokki police station . They complained that security forces physically assaulted them and demanded LE 5001 as an interim civil compensation. Prosecution have not acted to both complaint till now.
Sixteenth: Denial of Syndicate Membership
1 – Mid March 2009, journalists of AlAlam AlYoum and Nahdet Misr staged a protest stand demanding registration just like other colleagues and to implement court order issued for two of them to register and become syndicate members. The court order rejected allegations of the registration committee that journalists working for newspapers bearing foreign licenses are not eligible to syndicate membership. This claim is behind the suffering of thousands of journalists in Egypt; it deprived them of union membership. Working at Egyptian press companies is the only way to syndicate membership is an illegal claim in addition to that journalists practice the profession and it is their actual job.
2 – Depriving reporters from union membership resulted in that a clerk at the journalist syndicate filed a law suit against Zuhdi Zaki Nasr AlShami, chairman of AlBahraweya newspaper , issued by Tagamoa party , Radwa Mahmoud Khamis Abu Zeid, and Mahmoud Al-Said Ahmed Dwyer , columnist before Damanhur misdemeanors court accusing the first of facilitating press work to unregistered journalists . The claimant accused the second and third of impersonating journalists. On 24/10/2009, the court fined each journalist LE 300.
3 – The decision of Shura Council in May 2009, to merge Dar Alta’awon and Dar AlShaab with national press institutes caused many troubles to journalists. Editor of AlMassaeya laid off many journalists and expelled 25 others claiming they were incompetent and a liability to the institute.
The expelled journalists staged a sit in, in front of the newspaper premises. They also filed a lawsuit against the merger decision as it resulted in their losing their main income source as well as depriving many of them of joining the syndicate
Seventeenth: Vengeance through Lawsuit Fabrication
In April 2009, a neighbor of Wael Abbas, owner of the blog, MisrDigital, named Ahmed Aglan and his brother Ashraf Aglan , lieutenant at the rescue department of south Cairo, broke into Wael’s house, and abused him resulting in several injuries and a broken front tooth. Police did not respond to Wael’s call for help, they never showed up to take a report of the assault incident. On the other hand, the aggressor brother acted fast and reported maliciously against Wael Abbas accusing Waelof beating him with a club on his leg.
Prosecution issued a release warrant for Wael Abbas by guarantee of his residence and released Lieutenant Ashraf Aglan and his brother Ahmed on a LE 200 financial guarantee for each.
However , on 11/11/2009, Wael was sentenced in absentia by Hadayek AlQobba misdemeanor court to 6 executable months in prison and a LE 500 bail. These incidents reveal the intentions to avenge the blogger known for his boldness in revealing many incidents of offical systematic torture in Egypt. ANHRI lawyers are certain of the fact that there is some invisible hand stirring cases against Wael Abbas and trying to jail him.
Eighteenth: Expulsion from work or university because of blogging
1 – The blogger Karim Reda owner of the blog, Sarkha, ( A Cry), from a public oil company , Petrotrade . The decision was taken under his provisional work contract because of his writings critic of the political and social status in Egypt as well as revealing the many incidents of corruption within his company.
He created the Facebook group , Izbet Petrotrade , ( Petrotrade Manor) to socialize with all employees of the company branches all over Egypt in order to share experience, spread legal awareness between employees. He posted labor laws of Egypt and regulations of the company on Facebbok to make the staff recognize their rights and thus could possibly form a union. He also exposed corruption acts of the board and criticized the administration. This led to not renewing his contract and he was laid off.
2 – The blogger Amr Salama ,a student, was exposed to several harassment and faced punishment for publication of topics criticizing private universities, on his blog “Lessa Ayesh” http://lesa-3aish.blogspot.com.
Earlier he withdrew his file from Sinai Uni. for personal reasons and enrolled in the Canadian Uni. in Cairo. Once he stepped into the latter he was surprised to be brought to an investigation on what he wrote on his blog criticizing political and social conditions.
This made him decide to enroll once more in Sinai Uni. which is a classic act in private Unis. So he resubmitted all necessary papers for re-enrollment in November 2009. The clerks requested dean approval on his re-enrollment .
The dean deputy asked him for the reasons he left the university and the reason for re-enrollment. The dean talked to him about the poor living conditions in Sinai and that he was young to talk politics. Amr was surprised when the dean informed him that his re-enrollment is a security decision and the issue is up to the university administration .
When he met the vice president for student affairs he informed him that his re-enrollment was out of the question. His father told Amr that it was a decision taken by people superior to the father and to Amr.
3 – On 15/12/2009 the administrative court issued its decision to suspend Ahmed Saleh Abdullah ,Giza archaeological zone manager, for two months for half the pay. Then, Saleh was surprised by a wave of investigations and a smearing campaign on the newspapers launched by Zahi Hawass, head of the supreme council of antiquities. Saleh went through all this hardship because he proposed a scientific view of dealing with antiquities and mummies like that of Tutankhamen’s as he is an expert in this field and a master’s degree holder.
Hawass launched a press crackdown against Saleh and attacked him bitterly. Moreover, Hawass brought him before administrative investigations, reaching 42 in one year according to Saleh. Hawass, in short , turned Saleh’s life into hell just because Hawass would not accept someone more experienced in his administration even if his propositions were correct and were in the best interest of Egypt’s archaeological heritage.
Nineteenth : Restrictions on Internet Cafés
In June 2009, security raided an newly opened internet cafe in Agouza, Giza. They asked the manager to bring the client registration books since day one, i.e. 16/1/2009. It was a new management that rented the café on 25/5/2009 and reopened it on 5/6/2009, so the manager told security he has no access to books prior to 5/6/2009. They seized his id card, the café license and all the internet equipment.
They escorted him to Giza Security Directorate and forced him to sign a report that he ran a trade without license. When the lawyers requested to retrieve the equipment , prosecution refused and decided to keep them as exhibits to the case.
When the owner of the café and the manager went to collect the seized café license and id card at SSI office, the officer reminded them to register the names, addresses and id card number of each visitor to the cafe, and to monitor anyone browsing the sites “of terrorism or political opposition” and report them immediately. The officer gave them his private phone number for immediate reporting and threatened to close the café for good if a month elapsed and no one was reported!! He told them, “It is impossible that nobody will browse political or terrorists sites in a month’s time !!”
Twentieth: Travel Ban And Restrictions On The Right To Movement
1 – Mid June 2009, the journalist Abdel Moneim Monieb of ElDostor was banned from travel. He was arrested at Cairo airport by SSI officers and detained for 45 minutes. He missed his plane to Lebanon to be interviewed on a TV show about his book, Map of the Islamic Movements in Egypt, published by ANHRI. The officer in charge wrote off his departure stamp and seized his passport.
2 – On 29 6 2009 , security authorities at Cairo airport detained the blogger Wael Abbas on his arrival from Sweden, for six hours during which he was not allowed to eat , drink or use the restroom. Security scrutinized Wael’s luggage and medications and they searched Wael himself in an indecent manner. According to Abbas , his passport was seized and after a sit in at the airport he retrieved it . In addition, security seized his laptop to be allegedly checked by censorship of artistic works authority. Security asked him to sign a submission receipt over the laptop but Wael refused. He staged a sit in to get his laptop. The long detention at the airport led to losing his luggage.
Since that date, Stopping Abbas illegally, searching him and his luggage and harassing him at the airport has become the norm. Security would as well seize his belongings, especially the computer or any publications or the camera memory card.
3 – In May 2009, security banned the journalist Khaled Hamza, editor of the site Ikwanweb, http://www.ikhwanweb.com, from travel before boarding the plane ,in a medical trip to England. The travel ban, as usual, was without legal justification or a court order. The only reason for the ban was the arbitrariness of the interior ministry and its disrespect of the law.
4 – Not only were the travel ban and restrictions for Egyptian journalists, bloggers only , but also for an American blogger as well. Travis Randall ,owner of the blog , The place of Travis, http://travisrandall.blogspot.com was banned from entering Egypt. He was stopped by security at Cairo airport upon his arrival on 1/9/2009, informing him that he was banned from entering Egypt. He was detained until the next morning having seized his cell phone and computer. On the following day , he was forced him to buy a return ticket to London and leave Cairo.
Twenty First: Reports Of Criminal Charges Against Journalists
1 – Hussein Abaza, Shura Council member, filed a communiqué to the Prime Attorney of North Giza prosecution zone against the journalists : Ahmed Abu AlKheir and Reda Awad of Sawt AlUmma after publishing a report titled ” NDP youth turning Eighy : Youssef Wali, Ahmed AlLaithi, Abdul Rahim AlGhoul and Hussein Abaza … the fresh graduates! 980 feddans of the project property went to powerful people “. Prosecution decided to release them after investigation. The case is still in prosecution possession and a hearing date was not set yet.
2 – In February 2009, Abd ElRahman AlAidi, general supervisor of Middle Egypt archaeological zone filed a complaint, accusing the journalist Ahmed Seif of AlDostor newspaper of insult and libel. Investigations are still in progress.
3 – A number of senior judges filed communiqués to the attorney general on 7/3/2009 against Shimaa Almansy of Albadeel newspaper for publishing an interview with the jurist Mohamed Nour Farahat, a law professor at the University of Zagazig about the election of the judges club which they considered insulting to the judiciary. The communiqués are still in possession of the technical office of the attorney general until now.
4 – On 17/3/2009,Kamal AlDin Muhammad Khadrawi head of applied artists union of Assiut and AlWadi AlGadid branch and secretary general of NDP of Assuit second section , Ahmad Fahmi Muhammad secretary of the party organization and Momen Mohamed Mohamed, under secretary of organization filed a complaint to the attorney general of public prosecutions of South Assiut against both Adel Hammouda, editor of AlFagr and the journalist Mahmoud AlGuindy after the publication of a story entitled (without the Secretary-General knowledge … secret gatherings of youth leaders in NDP Assuit”.
They accused the newspaper of promoting malicious rumors to shake the confidence in NDP and tarnish the image of its leaders . No investigation of the complaint took place till the time of issuing the report.
5 – Tarek Nour, an advertising company director filed complaint against the blogger Tamer Azab on charges of deliberate abuse of the internet. On 25/10/2009, the investigation was conducted by the prosecution which decided to release the suspect from the police department. But security detained the blogger for 24 more hours. ANHRI legal aid unit, pressured prosecution, which in turn ordered to release the detainee immediately on the 26th. Tamer Azab had created a Group on Facebook that displays the ads for Nour , stating that they are reproductions of old ads which Tamer posted as well.
4 – On 6/1/2009, Abdeen prosecution called in the journalist Mohamed Ibrahim of AlBadeel newspaper for a hearing on the complaint of Tamer Mahmoud Riad Morsy board member of Laylat AlQadr charity institute accusing him of defamation in the reportages entitled “The orphanage of Laylat AlQadr.. streets are a better place and ” Communiqué to the AttorneyGeneral: a new video of a child in an orphanage, accuses public hospital of stealing his kidney”. The journalist was not interrogated yet and the lawsuit is at the attorney general technical office so far.
6 – On September 15th , 2009 Al Masry Al Youm daily interviewed Nawal ElSaadawi, entitled “Al Masry Al Youm interviews Nawal El Saadawi in her home after a three year absence of Egypt . There is a plan to split the country between Christianity and Islam “. Three NDP members lawyers submitted a communiqué to the prosecutor general on September 29th , 2009 against Nawal ElSaadawi and Al Masry Al Youm on charges of defamation of religions in the interview that allegedly contained destructive and harmful words and ideas to the religions. Such accusations would lead Saadawi to three years in jail. The investigation is still in the possession of the prosecutor general and no action was taken regarding it so far.
Acquittal Sentences And Current Cases
Acquittal Sentences And Current Cases
First: Acquittal Sentences In Publishing Cases
1- The lawsuit filed by the businessman and NDP general secretary, Ahmed Ezz against Abd Elhaleem Kandil, ex-editor of Sawt El Umma newspaper accusing him of insult and libel ,as a result of the latter’s publishing an article entitled “Egypt’s Number One Thief” .In August 2008 Ezz demanded LE 10,000 for moral damages. Giza court of appeals accepted the civil and criminal lawsuits on 27 November2008.Later, the public prosecution appealed the verdict at Agouza appeals court, which accepted the appeal and cancelled lower court verdict.
2- In September 2008, MP Hani Srour filed a lawsuit against Emad Fawzi of AlKarama newspaper ,accusing him of insult and libel .Hani demanded one hundred thousand pounds as a compensation .In January 2009, Dokki misdemeanor court denied the lawsuit and the plaintiff appealed the verdict. The court of appeals discussed the case and issued its verdict confirming lower court verdict ,not to accept the two cases ,and ordered the plaintiff to pay the fees.
3-On 25/5/2009, Dokki misdemeanor court denied the civil and criminal lawsuits filed by MP Ahmed Abd El Salaam, against Al Karama newspaper journalist Huda Badry, her editor,Hamdeen Sabahi, and Hamed Gabr Chairman of the newspaper accusing them of publishing insult and libel according to the published article entitled “Ahmed Qurra ,Property Monopolist”. Qurra demanded LE 5000 as compensation.
4-In July 2008,MP Mohamed Al Morshedy ,filed insult and libel lawsuit against the ex-editor of Al Badeel newspaper Mohamed El sayed Said, and the reporters Ramez Sobhi, and Mohamed Abd ARaouf .The lawsuit was reviewed and eventually closed on acquittal for the first and third ,and lack of rivalry for the second.
Last March, the public prosecution appealed the verdict ,and the case was adjourned more than once. On June 2009, the court refused the appeal as it was submitted after the specified dead line.
5-On 2/8/ 2008, MP and lawyer Abo Nagaa El Mehrazy, got a verdict in Hesba case against Saad Eldin Ibrahim for allegedly disseminating false claims and information about the interior affairs of Egypt. Abo Nagaa demanded LE2001 in compensation. Al Khalifa misdemeanor court sentenced Saad to two years imprisonment and LE 10,0000 on bail. In May 2009,according to the appeal presented by The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, and Saad’s lawyer ,the appeal was accepted and the court ordered the plaintiff to pay the fees.
6- The owner of the golden printing house, Ashraf Gomaa ,filed a lawsuit of insult and libel against owners of publishing houses : the owner of Merit Publishing house, Mohamed Hashem and the owner of Malameh publishing house ,Mohamed Al Sharkwai,according to a report by them in Akbar Al Youm newspaper entitled “The Printer Is A watcher”.Ashraf demanded LE 5001 as a compensation ,but on 25 January 2009 Kasr ElNil misdemeanor court acquitted the accused and refused the lawsuit.
7-The head of AlWafd board in AlFayoum, Essam Eddin Sharf, filed a lawsuit against the ex-secretary assistance of Al Wafd board In Al Fayoum, accusing him of impersonating a journalist in Febraury 2009,according to a report in Al Wafd newspaper entitled “Abaza ,Mounir and Naseer , the evil triangle in Al Wafd”.
On 30/4/2009 the court denied the criminal lawsuit and passed the civil lawsuit to the specialized court.
8- Wael Mohamed Mohamed, filed a lawsuit of insult and libel against the ex-editor of Al Badeel newspaper Mohamed El sayed Said ,Ramez Sobhi and Mohamed Abd ElRaouf, reporters . The lawsuit was reviewed and on 27/1/2009 and eventually closed on acquittal for the first and third and lack of rivalry for the second.
In March 2009,the public prosecution appealed the verdict ,and in April 2009, the court refused the appeal ,and confirmed lower court verdict.
9- Hani Youssef Hassan filed two lawsuits against Al Fagr newspaper editor Adel Hammouda ,and Eshaa Nasaar,journalist at the same newspaper. He accused them of publishing phrases in the newspaper discriminative of Nubians on 30/03/2009.The court issued a verdict to reject the lawsuits and ordered the plaintiff to pay the fees.
10-Judge Abd El Fattah Mourad filed a lawsuit against the executive director of ANHRI, Gamal Abd El Aziz Eid, Manal Bahii, and Alaa Abd El Fattah, directors of Alaa and Manal bloggers aggregator. Mourad presented a report to Dokki prosecution accusing them of insult and libel in public, during discussing the case of closing undesirable web sites at The State Council.
The prosecution released the accused persons by guarantee of their residence, then a date was set for a session to discuss the case at Dokki misdemeanor court and it was discussed till issuing acquittal sentences on 31/12/ 2009. Mourad appealed at Dokki appeals court and it was decided on 30/3/2009 to discuss the case . The case was in court till the confirmation of acquittal verdict in 29/6/2009.
11-On April 2009 ,Menya governorate police arrested Muneer Saad Hanna ,clerk at the educational administration , El Adawa zone in Menya accusing him of writing a poem .The plaintiff alleged that the poem contained insults to the President .The public prosecution investigated him without a lawyer’s attendance in adverse to the code of the criminal procedures. Muneer was brought to El Adawa court which issued its verdict ,denying the defendant the right to defense, and sentenced Muneer to three years of imprisonment and LE 100,000 bail.
The legal aid unit for freedom of expression at ANHRI succeeded in acquitting Muneer ,accused of insulting the president in the appeals session held at El Adawaa appeals court in Menya on 18/7/2009.The court accepted the defense of the Arabic Network which asserted the citizens’ right to express their ideas in writings without spying from security.
12-On 19 April 2009 Bolaak Abou Elaa misdemeanors court acquitted Cairo news company and its manager Nader Gohar from the unfair accusations, fabricated by security , mid April 2008.Gohar was fined LE 50,000 after condemning him on October 26th , 2008 “of possessing wirless equipements and gear “. Gohar was fined LE100,000 for the second accusation “setting up and running communication network without permission”. In addition all gear seized by security during inspecting the company mid April 2008 was confiscated for good.
Mid April 2008,Security has broke into Cairo News Company-CNC and confiscated five transmission units for live broadcast without serious reasons ,and after an investigation that revealed no violation of law. The case was closed on acquittal.
Second: Current Cases at Courts
1- Ahmed Ezz filed another lawsuit of insult and libel against Emad Saber journalist at Al Karama newspaper ,the editor Azazi Ali,and the chairman of the board Hamed Gabr ,after publishing an article titled “Is Ahmed Ezz Behind the Theft of Iron in Egypt?”Ezz demanded LE100,000 as compensation. Since August 2008, the case has been in court ,and it was adjourned to 14/10/2009 session.
2-The lawsuit filed by the Ex-MP Murtada Mansour against Sawt Al Ommah newspaper ,and the journalist Abd El Hafeez Saad , accusing them of insult and libel after publishing the article “The Fastest Victory for Sawt Al Ommah –Journalists Syndicate is Taking Legal Procedures against Murtada Mansour ,and Al Fersaan calls for Depriving him from Immunity”.Murtada demanded LE 1 Million as primary compensation. In January 2009 session ,the court decided to suspend the case , pending the verdict ,in Dokki misdemeanor court.
3- In March 2009, Mahmoud Sayed Al Batal filed a lawsuit against Nasiff Cosman chairman of Al Fagr newspaper ,editor ,Adel Hamoda,Abd El Fattah Ali editing director, and Hatem Abo El Nour journalist at the same newspaper because of publishing an article entitled “Arresting construction licences forgery gangs in El Harm”. The case was adjourned to 3/9/2009 session to submit memoranda. The case is still in court.
4-Asmaa Al Arabi Jawley Moroccan, living in Cairo, filed a lawsuit against, the journalist Reeham Atef ,Sowt AlUmma executive editor ,Osama Khaled ,and Essam Ismail Fahmy, chairman. Assma accused them of insult and libel and encroaching on private life , according to a report published in the newspaper entitled “Father kidnaps his two Children from Morocco ,and Haggles his wife on Court Verdicts” . The article contained a photo of the plaintiff and her daughter.
On 23/4/2009 session , the court decided to set 8/10/2009 session for the verdict hearing, and requested to amend the case in form, which is still before the court till the time of writing the report.
5-Abduallah Ameen Ragab ,general manager at Agouza educational administration ,filed a lawsuit through direct claim against the journalist Gamal Abd El Megeed at Sowt AlUmma newspaper. Abduallah accused him of libel according to what was published on 7/4/2008 ,entitled ” The Powerful Corrupted”. Abduallah demanded one LE 1000000 as primary compensation .The case is still before the court.
6-At the end of 2008 the citizens Ibrahim AlMorsy ,head of the legal section at textile and weaving company ,and Fouad Abd El Aleem , general commissioner of the company ,filed a lawsuit against Mohamed Abo El Dahb ,Journalist at AlDostor newspaper because of a published article ,entitled “Labor leaders! Next Thursday is A new Day of AlMahla labors’ Days”.
The case was discussed in many sessions. In May 2009, the court decided to adjourn the case till the constitutional court decision in the appeal of illegality of publishing false news in the penal code.
7-The director Akram Elsobky, filed a lawsuit against Sawt Al Umma journalist, Ahmed Abo El kheer ,and Abd El Haleem Kandil the ex-editor after publishing a report entitled “The bridegroom takes off the underpants of his bride and offers it to wedding guests ” .Akram accused them of insult and libel. The public prosecution forwarded the case to Dokki misdemeanor court, which adjourned it to the session 4th Febraury 2010 for review.
8-Local Councils’ members filed a group lawsuit through direct claim against ,Hassan Fathi , Omar El Wafdi Roz Al Yuessef reporters in Fayoom, and Karam Gabr, editor of the newspaper for what was published in the newspaper ,entitled “Tough Struggles in Fayoom End with Insult and Treason Accusation”. The Local Councils members demanded LE 500,0000 as primary compensation. The case is still at South Cairo prosecution to arrange a session at the specialized criminal court, since December 2008,when it was forwarded to the criminal court.
9-By the end of 2007,The Lawyer Omnia abd El Nabi filed a lawsuit against Al Fagr newspaper journalist, Mohamed Al Baz ,and the editor Adel Hammouda on objection to what was published in the newspaper entitled (Abu Hurayra and Imam Al Bokhary after him). She accused them of insult ,defamation and scorning Al Sahaba(the prophet’s companion).In addition, she demanded LE 2001 as primary civil compensation .The case was discussed in sessions till the court adjourned it to 31/12/2009 for review and presenting memoranda. The court decided to adjourn the case once more to continue considering it during 2010.
10-Adjutant of El Marg police station, filed a lawsuit of insult and libel against AlDostor , journalist ,Magdi Arfaa and the editor Ibrahim Issa.The adjutant accused them of publishing false news concerning his torture to a blind man and his family. The adjutant demanded LE 5000 as a primary civil compensation. The court forwarded the lawsuit to the public prosecution after declaring incompetence and the case is still before the public prosecution till the time of printing this report.
11- Abu Bakr Mohamed Abd El Fattah , professor at Cairo university ,faculty of engineering ,filed a lawsuit of insult and libel against Al Fagr journalist Ahmed Abd El Galeel, after publishing a report entitled “A doctor broke into the flat of his German neighbor, and the American embassy interferes”. In October 2009,the complaint was forwarded to Agouza misdemeanors court which adjourned it in January 2010 for review.
12-On January 15th , 2009,Cairo public prosecution , interrogated Amr Abd El Rady ,journalist of AlAhaly newspaper. The prosecution accused him of insult and libel of Mohamed Salem Mohamed, deputy manager of the specialized medical councils ,after reporting an incident that he allegedly accepted a bribe in return for issuing a state-financed medication permission. The investigation ended with releasing Amr by guarantee of his job. On 21/6/ 2009, the case was forwarded to the appeals prosecution to take a decision concerning appointing a session to try the case or to conclude the complaint .The case is still at the appeals office till the time of printing this report.
Accounts of The Legal Advisors of Partisan And
Accounts of The Legal Advisors of Partisan And Independent Newspapers
ANHRI held a number of meetings with the legal consultants of partisan and independent newspapers to review the legal cases they had witnessed during 2009, given their close relations with journalists and press-related cases. ANHRI checked the number of cases, their nature, what they ended up to, and persecutions and physical assaults on which newspapers based their legal proceedings . The convening parties also discussed the activation of the journalist syndicate’s role in protecting the newspapers and their journalists.
Account of Hussein Helmy, legal advisor of Wafd Party’s newspaper:
Hussein Helmy told ANHRI that the number of cases considered reached 200 cases in 2009, which is bigger than the number in previous years, noting that the lawsuits varied between criminal, civilian, reports, and complaints. He added that there are no litigations against the newspaper’s legal entity. He denied that the syndicate had any role in legal support for the newspaper in cases involving its journalists, illustrating that the syndicate has its representation only in specific cases, such as violating the ban on publishing, a case that had had a strong media echo. Helmy said that all of the newspaper’s journalists are syndicate members.
Asked about incidents in which journalists were assaulted during events’ coverage, Helmy said that such incidents are few and are immediately solved by officials.
Account of Hamdy AlAssiouty, legal advisor of AlAhaly newspaper:
AlAssiouty said that the number of lawsuits filed against the newspaper ranged between 20 and 25, which is almost the number of cases filed against AlAhaly annually. Motives behind the litigations varied between articles, news, and reports. He noted that in three cases, journalists were denied the right for coverage and were assaulted.
AlAssiouty stated that the syndicate has a good record in representing journalists in legal cases, illustrating that they are encountering problems, though, in cases that involve nonmembers at the syndicate. He said that there is no differentiation between members and nonmembers, however the syndicate’s establishment rules tell that journalist has to be professional in order to join it, while an unlisted journalist is sued for practicing the profession without membership.
Account of Samir AlBagoury, legal advisor of AlMogaz newspaper:
AlBagoury said that year 2009 witnessed eight reports filed against the newspaper, which is larger than the number in 2008. As for the number of misdemeanor claims, they reached 16, plus 4 compensation s claim, which is a little bit higher than the previous year. Cases filed against the newspaper are related to articles and news, he said. In general, the number of lawsuits was larger than the previous year . As for actions targeting the newspaper as a legal entity, it was only one filed by a lawyer seeking fame.
As for journalists who are members or nonmembers of the syndicate, AlBagoury said that the paper does not differentiate between both, mentioning the effective cooperation of the syndicate, which, he said, is subjected to undermining attempts. To explain, AlBagoury said that some journalists intentionally litigate each others in order to embarrass the syndicate Head and the board members as means for achieving election interests.
AlBagoury noted to some blatant cases that are noteworthy, most of notable of which is the one that closed on a prison sentence against the chief editor of the journal, Yasser Barakat, in his case with chief editor of AlOsboa. The syndicate Head tried to interfere, notifying the attorney general and the ministry of the interior. Yet, the law enforcement agents waited for Barakat in front of the paper’s building and arrested him as soon as he came out.
Account of Sayed Abla, legal advisor of AlBalagh and AlAhrar newspapers:
Abla said that the newspapers issue by a foreign license, so the ministry of information has no right to ban its publication in Egypt. He described the ban as illegal. Abla said that AlBalagh faced 15 legal cases during the year, which he held as an increase with respect the previous year . He noted that the cases filed are related to corruption disclosure as well as social and political reportages. He explained that the syndicate’s role is to attend the court sessions, especially that it has got a legal advisor and a legal unit.
Abla mentioned that during 2009, AlAhrar faced between 20 and 30 lawsuits , which was less than the previous year , most were publishing-related and were filed by public servants. Concerning the legal status of the paper, Abla argued that no cases were filed against the paper for this reason. He added that they enjoyed the support of the syndicate which was present in the court sessions.
Account of Essam AlIslambolly, legal advisor of Oyoun AlLeil:
AlIslambolly stated that the cases considered against the paper reached 12 during 2009, varying between civil and criminal. The number, he said, was the same as the previous year , adding that they are triggered by opinion, news, and reporting.
He noted that a syndicate member enjoys necessary syndicate protection during legal actions, compared to a nonmember. He called for amending the law in a away that makes the right of reply a defense right whereas waiving the right of reply is considered abandonment of the whole criminal case.
Account of Essam Eissa, legal advisor of AlDostor:
Eissa said that the number of cases against the paper largely declined after the president’s health case that had led to a two-month prison sentence against the chief editor, after which he received a presidential pardon.
Eissa noted that the number of cases currently being considered at the courts is 10-12 compensation claims, besides 3-4 press misdemeanor . He added that a number of reporters outside Cairo had been subject to assaults while on duty, which, he said, is due to lack of understanding of the nature of journalist work in provinces.
Discussing the syndicate’s role in supporting the paper during legal procedures, Eissa said that it is being remarkably negligent in the current times. He argued that the syndicate does not provide actual assistance to the journalists, and that there are times when the paper requests syndicate interference for the favor of some journalist, but in vain. Syndicate’s support is completely absent, he said.
Eissa highlighted that Sheikh Youssuf AlBadry filed the largest number of the cases against Al-Dostor, which prompted the journalists to agree with the paper’s board not to publish any stories about him. He said that the number of cases is much fewer than previous years, thanks to the legal review conducted before publishing. He noted that the paper makes sure it has documentation supporting the content published, and that the information is coming from reliable sources. Eissa also explained that AlDostor disregards evidence documents obtained via internet. The paper gives a space for response, publishing any correction of the information received, even without verifying it.
As for lawsuits against the paper as a legal entity, Essa said that a case was filed before the judge of provisional matters in Mansoura by some lawyer who called for suspending the paper and its license, but the court turned down the plea.
Account by Essam AlIslambolly, legal advisor of Sowt AlUmma:
AlIslambolly said that the number of suits during 2009 was 40, varying between administrative and civil cases, which is the same of previous years. Most are due to news, reporting, and opinion, he pointed out.
He noted that a syndicate member enjoys legal protection compared to a nonmember in case the syndicate interferes, also calling for amending the law amending the law in a away that makes the right of reply a defense right whereas waiving the right of reply is considered abandonment of the whole criminal case.
Account by Essam AlIslambolly, legal advisor of AlKarama:
AlIslambolly and Ahmed Helmy Kabriet, lawyers for AlKarama, said that the number of cases filed against the paper are 7, varying between compensation and press misdemeanors.
He stressed that the paper does not separate between journalists in legal support and skill improvement. He noted that the syndicate board does not act except in cases were public personalities are involved, adding that there were no lawsuits against the paper’s legal position, and that all cases are related to publishing.
Account of Negad AlBuraei, legal advisor of Al Masry Al Youm:
AlBuraei stated that the number of cases filed against Al Masry AlYoum during 2009 reached 40, the same number of the previous year . He noted that most proceedings are taken by ordinary citizens over articles and reports and news about social issues. He drew attention to the effective role of the syndicate. He said that the paper rarely faces litigations over opinion articles, and added that there is no differentiation between members and nonmembers of the syndicate.
Account of Nashaat Agha, legal advisor of AlFagr
Agha said that the number of cases against the paper in 2009 was less than previous years. New cases for this year reached 40, varying between civil and misdemeanor claims.
Agha attributed the drop in cases against AlFagr to two important factors:
1-The chief editor was hired a team of lawyers that gathers before printing the paper. Those have the responsibility to make an accurate legal revision of what is to be published, and they exclude contents that are not supported by documents.
2- The paper activates the right of reply. There were more than one incident when citizens, whose names were mentioned in content already published, contacted the paper and met the officials to discuss the material printed material . The processes ended up with publishing replies of those citizens , in respect to the journalism honor charter.
Agha noted that one lawyer litigated the paper before the administrative court and demanded its closure after it had published an article about Abu Hurayra(prophet Mohamed’s companion). The case has been filed this year and is still being considered.
He noted that the most famous cases were the one filed by Ahmed Ezz and Shahinaz AlNaggar before the Agouza misdemeanors court, plus the damage claim by the Shiekh of AlAzhar Mosque before North Giza court.
Agha noted that AlFagr provides enough legal support to its nonmember journalist in case they were prosecuted . He added that a great effort is exerted with those journalists to ensure professionalism in publishing and wording of the news. He mentioned that the syndicate has a significant role in case of requesting support for member journalists.
Account of Rawda Ahmed, lawyer and the director of ANHRI’s freedom of expression’s legal aid unit:
Rawda who is responsible for defense in the cases and violations related to publications on the internet and printed papers, as well as restrictions and control on audio and visual media, said “The unit has dealt with a very serious issue, that is the state’s use of the emergency law against internet users and bloggers, especially Facebook users .The state resorts to emergency law because it is easier to enforce, since it gives the right to detain activists without reasons. This is also due to the fact that cases against bloggers that have been concluded at the ordinary prosecution services or at the state security prosecution”.
Rawda said that among the most important cases handled by he unit was the cases filed against the syndicate nonmembers with the charge of impersonating journalists. The unit encountered substantial problems in defending those as the syndicate’s law 76/1970 incriminates practicing journalism for nonmembers. Meanwhile, the sixth article of the same law, states that, “He is considered a journalist that who practices journalism regularly and principally in a daily or a periodical paper printed in the United Arab Republic or within an Egyptian or a foreign news agency operating inside, and receives a stable salary, provided that he does not practice another profession simultaneously”.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Undoubtedly, freedom of opinion and expression will not be obtained only by writing either on newspapers or on blogs. Yet it is a right which deserves struggling for. Unity is the only solution for obtaining freedom in facing a state where only one party dominates along with a group that has all the power cards in their hands. ANHRI presents a number of recommendations hoping for a more just, democratic and free environment concerning the right to freedom of expression and opinion,
1-Press coalitions outside journalists’ syndicate were the prominent feature during 2009.Many coalitions such as The association of Egyptian Journalists, journalists without rights group ,and journalists without syndicate group were detailed in this report . The aim of all these coalitions is to retrieve the wasted rights of journalists and secure a good life for them .ANHRI suggests of these coalitions unit in a powerful frame that will succeed in pressuring for more professional journalists and a more democratic environment.
2-Journalists’ syndicate has to practice its role in protecting its journalists ,who are working generally in the profession ,and not to differentiate between the listed and the majority of unlisted journalists. The syndicate has to secure the legal frame to protect not only those who carry the syndicate ids but everyone who practices the profession. The syndicate has to face the practices of the press supreme council that imposes decisions on journalists, last of which was depriving 115 journalists from training and technology allowance under the pretext of them having problems with administrations of the newspapers in which they work.
3-The necessity of organizing workshops for journalists to train them on how topractice press writing without legal responsibility .This requests aid of experienced journalists and press interested lawyers, so as to minimize the number of cases filed against journalists.
4-Presure should be practiced on the public prosecution to proceed with investigations in the reports presented by the writers and journalists which are shelved or left for a long time without any action. This leads to impunity.
5-The call for issuing a law that ensures journalist free access to the information which they need for their work, and officials accountability if they denied or monopolized information from journalists.
6-The call for changing the terms of registration in Journalists’ syndicate, and facilitating the registering of journalists practicing the profession, with no need to hold on to a law issued in the royal era. This law denies thousands of young journalists from their right to be enlisted in a syndicate that defends them.
7-We ask the Egyptian government to take a clear stance concerning Hesba cases that are often accepted they were against activists, opposition journalists ,or government critics. On the other hand the cases filed against the officials or their close are neglected. It is important to activate the stipulation that the plaintiff enjoys the required capacity and direct interest.
8- Give opportunity of joining the syndicate to bloggers and those who work in electronic press . This can ensure the legal protection for them in publishing cases, especially after the increased number of cases , prison sentences and huge fines issued against them.
9-The right of issuing papers and grabbing this right from the press supreme council which is under the control of the ruling NDP .Reforming this council through elections and in coordination with journalists’ syndicate is a way that ensures the council’s support for the freedom of the press and the council current restricting policy.
For legal documentation, communiqués to prosecution, defense memoranda and court sentences, please check the Arabic version of this report.
For related reports , please check