Authorities pursue legal action against Egyptian journalists

The Al-Dokki Criminal Court on May 28, 2013, sentenced Islam Afifi, former editor-in-chief of Al-Dustour newspaper, to a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,431) after convicting him of libel against Essam al-Eryan, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Eryan filed a complaint against Afifi after the journalist published a report in June 2012 that alleged that some leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood had held secret meetings to plan violent acts in the event that Morsi did not win the presidential elections.

The court acquitted Afifi of additional charges lodged against him, which included sparking panic among the public, disturbing the public peace, and harming the public interest.

In an unrelated development, a public prosecutor on May 28, 2013, accused Al-Watan reporter Mohamed al-Sheikh of allegedly “fabricating an interview with the former Egyptian president Mubarak.” Earlier in May, al-Sheikh published an interview with former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the first since the former leader was ousted. In the interview, Mubarak commented on Egyptian politics.

Mubarak’s lawyer denied the interview took place, and an independent lawyer filed a complaint against Al-Watan asking for al-Sheikh to be punished for fabricating the interview, according to news reports. In response, Al-Watan posted videos and images of the interview taking place inside Mubarak’s medical helicopter on its website.

In an unrelated episode, police briefly detained Ali Kazimy, manager of the private news agency Al-Massar, on May 27, 2013 in Cairo, and confiscated his cameras and recording and production equipment, according to news reports. Kazimy was charged with broadcasting news about Egypt without legal permission, but was released after showing documents proving he had obtained permission. Kazimy’s equipment has not yet been returned.

Kazimy, an Iraqi citizen based in Cairo, often uploaded videos to the Internet, which would be broadcast by Iraqi satellite channels including Al-Massar. Other stations to broadcast Kazimy’s work include Ghadir, Jawid Radio, Pisty, Infiniti, Amir, Al-Ahd, and Al-Atgaha, according to news reports.