Egypt’s leading Editor Ibrahim Eissa has been sentenced to six months in prison over a series of articles published by his Al Dustour newspaper concerning rumours of President Hosni Mubarak’s health.
The sentencing has attracted widespread condemnation by rights groups.
“The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) denounced today the judgment is sued by Boulak Abu Al Ela, Court of Misdemeanor, which was held in [the] New Cairo Courts Assemblage against Ibrahim Eissa,” HRinfo said in a statement.
The pan-Arab rights group has been vocal in its condemnation of Arab governments’ restrictions on freedom of speech and press, as well as adamant in its support for journalists, bloggers and media professionals.
“The conviction issued today is in fact a condemnation of the Egyptian government, which has shown its real attitude towards freedom of expression,” Gamal Eid, executive-director for HRinfo, said in the statement.
The outspoken Editor had faced up to three years in prison for “spreading false information and damaging public interest and national stability.”
He can still appeal the sentence.
“The regime is trying to defend itself because it knows it has plunged the country into successive crises and, if my imprisonment will make bread reach the people who are queuing for it, then I am ready to go to prison,” Eissa told reporters after the verdict was announced.
Al Dustour was not the first newspaper in Egypt to publish rumors that were circulating about the President’s health.
Last October, 23 independent newspapers suspended publication in protest against the Egyptian government’s crackdown on journalists. Panapress.