Reporters Without Borders

 Jail sentence for defamation is bad sign for freedom of information

Jail sentence for defamation is bad sign for freedom of information

Published on Tuesday 23 October 2012.
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In Arabic (بالعربية)

A court in Luxor yesterday convicted Tawfiq Okacha, the owner of the TV station El-Faraeen (The Pharaons) and a program presenter known for his hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi, of defamation under the criminal code and sentenced him to four months’ imprisonment and a fine of 100 Egyptian pounds (12.55 euros).

Such a conviction and sentence based on the criminal code sends out a highly negative message for freedom of information in Egypt. Reporters Without Borders urges the country’s new authorities to review the provisions relating to press offences and to abolish imprisonment as a penalty for comments judged to be offensive or defamatory.

The case arose from a complaint by a former member of Parliament, Nasreddine Moghazi, after a program was aired in late August in which Okacha was highly critical of Morsi. His trial opened on 1 September.

A court ruled on 20 October that the TV station, ordered off the air in August, could resume broadcasting, the French news agency Agence France-Presse reported.

Okacha is also charged with inciting the president’s assassination and the government’s overthrow. His trial on these charges is due to open on 7 November. He was arrested on 30 September for outstanding petty offences and released the next day.

When he went to a police station to ascertain his judicial status, he was told he had been given two six-month sentences in his absence for issuing bad cheques and two of one month each for stealing electrical power.

Crédit Photo: AFP

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