CAIRO: Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate will hold an urgent meeting Monday, while a group of journalists will stage a protest outside the syndicate, protesting the Ministry of Interior’s “crackdown on press freedom,” head of the syndicate Yehia al-Qalash said Saturday.
The meeting is a reaction to the Interior Ministry’s lawsuit against Al-Youm al-Sabei (Youm7) Editor-in-Chief Kahled Salah and reporter Sayed Falah over “publishing false news that disturb peace and public security,” according to Attorney General Hesham Barakat’s office.
The independent newspaper, as well as other media outlets, published Thursday a story that a car in President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s motorcade was attacked Wednesday on its way back to Cairo from Sharm el-sheikh, where a tripartite economic Summit was held.
After being investigated for several hours, Salah and Falah were released on bail of a 10,000 EGP ($1,310) each. A third reporter, Mohamed Abdel Raouf, is being investigated Sunday because he was responsible for publishing stories when the news was posted on Youm7’s website.
The bail was paid although the press law stipulates that a journalist shall not be remanded for a publication crime and shall not pay bail to be released.
“I do not mind to be held accountable for any incorrect news […] if a piece of news was proven incorrect, I apologize for it,” Salah told ON TV channel Saturday. He added that a security source confirmed the news to Falah after he learned it; hence, the story was published.
However, the newspaper published a presidency statement denying the news and removed the earlier story, Salah continued, noting that if the Interior Ministry is to sue him, it should be over a publication crime, not under the pretext of “disturbing peace and public safety.”
“I think that a complaint with such wording aims at making journalists think several times before publishing any news concerning the Interior [Ministry],” Khlaed said.
Some politicians said the charge is a “punishment” against any media outlet that tackles the police’s violations.
On June 10, a number of journalists called for a strike Wednesday, protesting “deteriorating economic conditions” of journalists and the “arbitrary dismissal” at press institutions. Their initiative garnered support from journalists around the world.