Egypt: Journalists imprisoned

New York, June 3, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent imprisonment of Mostafa Bakry and his brother Mahmoud Bakry, editor-in-chief and deputy editor-in-chief, respectively, of the weekly newspaper Al-Osboa.

On Sunday, June 1, Cairo’s Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest legal authority, rejected the appeals of the journalists, who had been sentenced to prison in 1998 after being convicted of libeling Mohamed Abdel Aal, head of Egypt’s suspended Social Justice Party.

The next day, Monday, Mostafa Bakry and Mahmoud Bakry were taken from their homes and transferred to Mazraa Tora Prison south of Cairo to serve out their sentences.

The case stems from articles the journalists wrote in 1996 in the opposition daily Al-Ahrar, which Mostafa Bakry was editing at the time, accusing Abdel Aal of financial misconduct.

Last month, the State Security Court sentenced Abdel Aal to prison for taking bribes from businessmen in exchange for not writing about them in his party’s newspaper, Al Watan al-Arabi.

“Imprisoning journalists for their writing is totally unacceptable,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “Mostafa and Mahmoud Bakry should be released immediately, and authorities should cease all legal action against them.”