CPJ Condemns Imprisonment of Egyptian Journalist

Amer Nassef is the Fourth Egyptian Journalist Jailed for Libel in 1998

May 29, 1998


New York, N.Y. -- In a letter sent to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak today, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly protests the recent appellate court ruling against journalist Amer Abdel Hadi Nassef, who was sentenced to three months in prison for allegedly libeling a noted Egyptian writer. Nassef is the fourth Egyptian journalist to be imprisoned for defamation in 1998. He is currently serving his sentence in Torah Mazraa Prison along with colleagues Magdy Hussein and Muhammad Hilel of the bi-weekly Al-Sha'b and Gamal Fahmy of the now-defunct weekly Al-Dustur and the weekly Al-Arabi. Hussein, Hilel, and Fahmy were also convicted of defamation and are serving prison terms ranging from 6 months to one year.

According to the Cairo-based Center for Human Rights Legal Aid (CHRLA), at least 72 editors and reporters are threatened by the prospect of imprisonment for publication offenses in cases that are either awaiting trial or are under investigation.

"Democratic societies do not imprison journalists for what they publish," said William A. Orme, Jr., CPJ's executive director. "The fact that dozens of other reporters and editors are also facing criminal prosecution makes this recent spate of jailings all the more troubling. We urge the Egyptian government to abide by accepted democratic norms and end all criminal prosecutions of journalists for libel. We also call on the government to free those journalists now imprisoned as a result of their reporting."

Click here for the text of CPJ's letter to Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, and for information on how to join in CPJ's protest.
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