New York, November 19, 2016 – The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the conviction of three leaders of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate today on charges of harboring a fugitive. A Cairo court sentenced Yehia Qallash, the chairman of the syndicate, and board members Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim to two years in prison, according to news reports. The court set bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$628) each pending appeal.
“The authorities are punishing Yehia Qallash, Khaled al-Balshy, and Gamal Abdel Rahim, who represent the most influential voice for press freedom in Egypt, for working to protect journalists from harassment, threats, and arrests,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. “We call on Egyptian authorities to let the Journalists Syndicate and all members of the press do their jobs without fear of reprisal.”
The charges were brought by Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek in May 2016, weeks after police raided Syndicate headquarters in downtown Cairo and arrested two journalists who were inside. The three leaders still face charges of spreading false news about the raid.