Editor charged over Mubarak story

The outspoken editor of an independent newspaper in Egypt is to stand trial on charges of spreading false information about President Hosni Mubarak.

Editor charged over Mubarak story
Ibrahim Issa, who edits al-Dustour, was accused of harming Egypt's economy by publishing an article saying the health of the 79-year-old was in decline.

Prosecutors said investors quickly took $350m (£172m) out of Egypt.

The trial is being seen as part of a wider campaign against critics, several of whom have been arrested recently.

Opponents of the government ranging from bloggers to members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement have been arrested in recent months.

Correspondents say public anxiety over rising food prices and water shortages this summer has also put the Egyptian authorities on edge.

Denials

The accusations against Mr Issa come at the end of a period of intense speculation about Mr Mubarak's health, after he was not seen in public for most of August.

Mr Issa's newspaper, al-Dustour, published several front page stories during the period saying the president was dead or seriously ill.

One alleged that Mr Mubarak sometimes lapsed into comas.

The rumours were not denied by Mr Mubarak or his government for weeks until he finally appeared in photos and gave an interview to state-run media.

Last week, the president's wife insisted her husband was in good health and said those who published such speculation deserved to be punished.

Mr Mubarak has ruled Egypt for over 25 years but has no designated successor, although many believe his son, Gamal, is being groomed for the role.

'Not surprised'

On Tuesday, the country's prosecutor general decided that Mr Issa should face trial for disturbing the peace and harming national economic interests.

He faces up to three years in jail if found guilty.

This is not the first time I am being referred to trial, and it won't be the last

Ibrahim Issa


Mubarak's 25 years in power

"I am not surprised. I was expecting it," Mr Issa told the Reuters news agency after the announcement. "This is the fate of any respected journalist in Egypt."

"This is not the first time I am being referred to trial, and it won't be the last one," he added.

The BBC's Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says Mr Issa is well known for his vociferous and scathing criticism of the president and his family, who play an increasingly prominent role in public life in Egypt.

In February, Mr Issa narrowly escaped being sent to prison after an appeal court overturned a one year sentence against him for defaming the president.

BBC
Last Mod: 16 Eylül 2007, 12:19
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