Egypt court cancels jail terms for news editors

The court in the Egyptian capital ruled that the newspaper editors must pay fines of 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,593) each, the sources said.

Egypt court cancels jail terms for news editors

An Egyptian appeals court overturned jail sentences on Saturday given to four editors in 2007 for defaming senior members of Egypt's ruling party, including the president and his son, court sources said.

But the court in the Egyptian capital ruled that the newspaper editors must pay fines of 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,593) each, the sources said.

A lower court had sentenced the editors to a year in jail for publishing several articles considered by the court to damage the reputation of the president and ruling party members.

That ruling was one of several in recent years that have come close to putting prominent journalists behind bars for publishing offenses.

The 2007 conviction also marked an escalation of what analysts describe as a campaign by the National Democratic Party against independent newspapers which have reported that President Hosni Mubarak was grooming his son Gamal to succeed him. Both father and son deny that.

All four editors in this case -- Ibrahim Issa, Adel Hammouda, Wael el-Ebrashi and Abdel-Halim Qandil -- had remained free on bail pending their appeal. The four editors are known for their criticism of Mubarak and Gamal.

The ruling by the appeals court came nearly four months after Mubarak decreed in a separate case that one of the editors, Issa, need not go to jail over his newspaper's reporting on the president's health.

Mubarak pardoned Issa, editor of al-Dustour newspaper, after an appeals court reduced his original six-month sentence to two months.

While the Egyptian press have enjoyed more freedom in the last few years, human rights groups say criticising the president or his family is a risky venture.

Analysts say waning U.S. pressure on Egypt to improve its rights record and allow more political dissent has given the government a freer hand in silencing detractors. Cairo says its judiciary is independent and not politically influenced. ($1 = 5.5664 Egyptian pounds)

Reuters

Last Mod: 01 Şubat 2009, 12:58
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