Journalist sentenced to six months in prison

New York, May 3, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the prison sentence imposed last week on Egyptian journalist Ahmed Haridy, editor of the online daily newspaper Al Methaq Al Araby.

On April 28, Haridy was sentenced to six months in prison after the Boulak Abu al-Aila Misdemeanor Court in the capital, Cairo, found him guilty of defaming Ibrahim Nafie, editor-in-chief and chairman of Egypt’s largest newspaper, the semi-official Al-Ahram.

The charges stem from a series of articles published in Al Methaq Al Araby last May and June alleging that Nafie and several other senior managers of Al-Ahram were involved in financial malfeasance. According to Haridy, Nafie filed suit against him in July 2001.

“The Egyptian press will not be free until journalists no longer face the prospect of being jailed for their reporting,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “While journalists should be responsible for what they write, they should never be subject to criminal penalties for their journalistic work.”

Haridy told CPJ that he posted a bail fee of 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$215). He has appealed the court’s decision. The appeal hearing is slated for July.