Egyptian Journalist Questioned by State Security Over Mubarak Health Reports
Egyptian Journalist Questioned by State Security Over Mubarak Health Reports
Tuesday, September 4,2007 05:38

Egyptian Higher State Security Prosecution summoned the editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Dustour, Ibrahim Eissa to appear before it on Wednesday after a lawyer submitted a complaint accusing him of circulating false rumors around health of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The subpoena raised worries of the Egyptian Press Syndicate. Gamal Fahmi, a board member of the press syndicate, told AFP that" The Higher State Security Prosecution informed the syndicate that it summoned " Eissa to investigate with him without any further details or reason for this investigation .

"However, judicial sources informed us that its comes against the background of publishing reports about the health of the Egyptian president although what newspapers reported concerning this issue remains within borders of the traditional political controversy recognized in all democratic states. It also alleviates the public opinion need for information about such an issue which has been met with a silence from state and government bodies," said Fahmi.

Fahmi confirmed that these bodies:" Haven"t adhered to the required principles of transparency and clarity in a very important issue." "We are very worried over the indications of an incitement campaign that targets press freedom. This campaign is unfortunately launched by journalists affiliated to the ruling party although the law articles that demand them activated are the ones that the syndicate still demand them canceled because they have very serious restrictions against freedom of speech and freedom of the press, especially that articles of the penal code include unspecified phrases about publishing false rumors and spreading chaos." A judicial source confirmed that summoning Eissa to appear in front of the state security prosecution came after lawyer Samir Mohamed Al Sheshtawi, the chairman of the Egyptian organization for defending national unity submitted a complaint to the attorney general in which he accuses Eissa " of circulating rumours and publishing false reports around the health of the president, disturbing the public security and caused damages to public interests".

The source added that Al Sheshtawi, in his complaint, accused Eissa of" seeking to show that country as witnessing a state of political vacuum and that its bodies are paralyzed, frustrating people who became afraid about their future and raised a state of expectation and panic among citizens, state which affected the economic situation".

For his part, Ibrahim Eissa said " I received the subpoena through the Press Syndicate and I am astonished for several reasons. All independent and state owned special daily Egyptian newspapers tackled this topic. However, I am the only one who received such a summon. To the contrary, we wrote on Al-Dustour that the president is enjoying a good health. We even demanded the presidential palace or the Health Ministry to issue a statement to face the rumor. We only criticized not issuing a statement to explain truth for people. All these have no violation to law".

Ibrahim added" this investigation is held upon a tip from the Egyptian Interior Ministry which is trying through this to settle scores with Al-Dustour newspaper and with me because of what I write". Several government newspapers have recently launched a violent attack against opposition and independent newspapers that tackled the rumour about the health of the Egyptian President.

Their attack focused on Al-Dustour newspaper which was accused by the semi-state run Al-Ahram newspaper of being the official mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood group.

Editors-in-chief of some state newspapers even demanded journalists involved in circulating this rumour held accountable and application penal code articles that incriminate causing chaos and publishing false rumors. The wife of the Egyptian President, Susan Mubarak, confirmed on a TV interview on Sunday that her husband is doing well, denying rumors that his health deteriorated and she called for holding rumormongers accountable. He is very well and is doing his usual activities", said Mrs.

Mubarak in an interview aired on Al-Arabiya Channel. Egyptian President (79 years) called on citizens in a press interview published on Friday no to care for rumors as they are politically motivated, according to him. Mubarak told the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram:" I don"t care about such rumors whose source and purposes are well known", urging the society not to care about them

. Several rumors spoke about a deteriorating health of the Egyptian President and that he was sent abroad to be hospitalized. On its part, Ikhwanweb declares its full solidarity with Ibrahim Eissa and all journalists suffering from the tyranny from the Egyptian regime.