Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, November 30, 2007

Newspaper editors in Egypt sentenced for reporting 'false information' on presidential succession

The editors of four newspapers were given year-long sentences in Egypt for reporting “false information” that President Hosni Mubarak intended to his son succeed him, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

Egypt’s next presidential elections take place in 2011. Gamal Mubarak, the president’s son, was recently named to the National Democratic Party’s Supreme Council. Only council members are allowed to run for president, putting Gamal in place for the 2011 elections.

“Anything can happen in Egypt now, and there’s a certain amount of fear,” said Nabil Shawkat, a writer and commentator. “There’s no pressure on the government to democratize. It can do whatever it wants.”

President Bush said in 2004 that Egypt would set the democratic standard in the Middle East. When presidential elections were held in 2005, however, Mubarak began to crack down, beginning with the prosecution of his primary challenger, Ayman Nour. Nour was convicted of falsifying papers to legalize his Tomorrow party.

The editors were sentenced on September 14, but released on bail, pending appeal.

According to Human Rights Watch, “Press freedom does not exist in a country where the state can put you in prison simply for criticizing the president.”

Mubarak defended the prosecutions, telling the weekly Osboa newspaper, “Going too far in publishing lies and false information are issues that have nothing to do with freedom of the press but aim at causing chaos.”

For the full article, click here.

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