Reporters Without Borders

Respect for freedom of expression worsening in Egypt

Respect for freedom of expression worsening in Egypt

Published on Wednesday 5 October 2011. Updated on Wednesday 19 October 2011.
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Reporters Without Borders deplores yesterday’s decision by a military court in Cairo to postpone the hearing of jailed blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad’s appeal until 11 October. The postponement is way to keep Sanad in detention without hearing his case, the press freedom organization said.

Violence was used to disperse yesterday’s demonstrations in support of Sanad. Soldiers attacked activists and arrested three journalists. They also seized cameras and mobile phones from both protesters and journalists. Material was confiscated from Al-Jazeera, Press TV and Christian Science Monitor personnel.

Sanad’s father, Nabil Sanad Ibrahim, has written another letter to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces requesting the release of his son, who was arrested on 28 March for criticizing the armed forces and was sentenced to three years in prison by a military court on 10 April.

Reporters Without Borders supports his initiative and urges the authorities to stop cracking down on bloggers and journalists. The organization has registered a series of incidents affecting the media in the past two weeks.

Plain-clothes police raided the offices of Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr (Al-Jazeera Live Egypt), located in the Cairo neighbourhood of Al-Agouza, for the second time in a month on 29 September, detaining the journalist Mohamed Suleiman for several hours and confiscating material without a warrant.

The previous raid was carried out on 11 September by culture ministry and public broadcasting agency personnel, who examined the station’s official papers, seized mobile broadcasting equipment and arrested a technician (read article).

The General Authority for Investment and Free Trade Zones sent a warning to satellite TV station ON TV on 4 October accusing it of violating the terms of the Investment Guarantees and Incentives Act as regards programme content. A check would be carried out within 48 hours, said the agency, which issued ON TV with a broadcast licence in 2008. ON TV was previously assured in December 2010 that it was complying with programme content rules.

The ministry of solidarity and social justice sent a similar warning to Dream TV because it retransmitted the 19 July edition of its talk-show Al-Haqiqa on 16 September, thereby allegedly violated the media Code of Conduct.

The state-owned Al-Ahram Press House refused to print the latest issue of the pro-government newspaper Rosa-l-Youssef on 26 September. According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, this was because a previous issue (on 27) had an article accusing ousted President Hosni Mubarak of knowingly allowing an Israeli spy to operate in Egypt.

Two days before that, the same state printing press stopped printing the latest issue of the weekly Sawt Al-Umma and scrapped all the copies that had already come off the press. The reason was an article by the journalist Antar Abdel Latif accusing the intelligence services of showing no interest in trying to solve any of the murders of demonstrators during the 18-day revolution.

photo: ©qantara

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