World Bulletin / News Desk
The trial of the head of Egypt’s press syndicate and two board members on charges of harboring journalists is seen as a new clampdown by the Egyptian authorities on press freedoms in the country.
Last week, Egyptian authorities referred the head of the Journalists Syndicate, Yahya Qallash, and two colleagues to trial on charges of harboring “fugitives” and publishing false news.
The move came almost one month after police stormed the syndicate’s headquarters in Cairo, arresting two journalists for allegedly "inciting protests" and "plotting to overthrow the ruling regime".
Syndicate officials have decried the raid -- the first in the syndicate’s history -- as a "blatant assault on journalists’ dignity" and have demanded the interior minister’s dismissal.
The interior ministry, for its part, said the arrest of the two journalists had been carried out in accordance with the law and in line with a warrant issued by Egypt’s prosecutor-general.
“The trial of the press union’s chief and his two colleagues is an unprecedented move,” Mahmoud Khalil, a professor of journalism at Cairo University, said.
He blamed the recent escalation for what he described as intransigence and disrespect of law by all parties involved in the crisis.
“The decision to refer the three journalists to trial is now taking the issue to a new abyss,” he said.
If convicted, the three syndicate officials could face prison.
The trial of the three journalists and the raid on the syndicate’s headquarters “are nothing but an attempt to use the law to terrorize the press union,” former judge Nagi Derbala said.
Last Mod: 06 Haziran 2016, 16:41