Egyptian Court Drops Prison Sentence against AlJazeera’s Huwaida Taha
An Egyptian court dropped a 6 month prison sentence against reporter Huwaida Taha of Aljazeera channel. Taha faced this sentence on charges of “possessing videos of a documentary about torturing in police stations”.
Heliopolis Court of Appeals dismissed the charge of undermining the country”s interests and lifted the 10 thousand pounds fine in a previous ruling of a lower court.
However, the court upheld another ruling against her related to tapes and another 20 thousands pounds fine. This was on charge of “Shooting and possessing scenes which are untrue and may harm the reputation of Egypt .”
For his part, Hussein Abdul Ghani, manager of AlJazeera”s office in Cairo , said:” I can not comment on the ruling itself but the threats of imprisonment and huge fines are like a sword that hunts the freedom of the press”.
Huwaida Taha was preparing documentarily around tortures facing detainees in Egyptian police stations before authorities arrest her at Cairo International Airport on Jan, 8th, 2007, and seize about fifty tapes and a laptop while she was about to travel to Doha to prepare the episodes.
A week of investigations led to suing Huwaida Taha on charges of “Doing activities that may harm the country”s national interests”. After one night in jail, she was released pending trial on bail of 10 thousand Egyptian pounds (about $1700).
Reporters Without Borders has voiced its severe concern over the increasing number of Egyptian journalists referred to Egyptian courts, including Huwaida Taha, confirming that they pay the price of condemning the so called ” the haphazard exercises of the regime.”
In a related context, a ruling is to be issued on Tuesday, 26th, in the case of the rumour that tackled the health of President Hosni Mubarak. Ibrahim Eissa, the editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Dustour is standing trial on charge of spreading this rumour.