Leading Egyptian Editor Ibrahim Eissa is to appear in court on Wednesday to face charges of publishing “fake news about the President’s health” which, he said, had afflicted the national economy.
Several rights groups have condemned the decision by the Cairo government to try the Editor, who has been an outspoken critic of the regime.
Contrary to the report of the President’s ill health, First Lady Suzanne Mubarak went on Al Arabiya television news network to say her husband, President Hosni Mubarak, was “excellent” and that “there must be punishment either for a journalist, a television (station) or newspapers that publish the rumours.”
Eissa’s Al Dustour newspaper was not the first or the only Egyptian publication to report on the rumours of the President’s health.
Many believe the charges were brought against Eissa due to his outspokenness and support for opposition groups.
“Eissa’s prosecution shows how Egypt’s authorities shamelessly use the courts to punish outspoken journalists,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.”
He said the court should dismiss ”this politically motivated case once and for all.”
Mahmoud Kandil, one the embattled Editor’s lawyers, said his client was being used by the government to settle old scores.
“He has been singled out for prosecution because he keeps focusing on the issue of inheritance of power by Mubarak’s son, Gamal. And the purpose is to find a scapegoat to prompt self-censorship about the inh eritance and transition of power in Egypt,” Kandil said.
If convicted, Eissa faces up to three years in prison and a fine of as much as 20,000 Egyptian pounds (US$3,600). Panapress.