CAIRO: Six journalists, including three editors-in-chief, were charged Wednesday with “publishing false news” claiming that Minister of Justice Ahmed al-Zend profiteered from his position when he was Judges’ Club Chairperson.
The accused journalists are Ahram gate editor-in-chief Hesham Younis, Ahram gate reporter Ahmed Abdel-Azeem Amer, Al-Masryoon Editor-in-chief Gamal Sultan, Al-Masryoon reporter Iman Yehia Ibrahim, Sout al-Omma editor-in-chief Abdel-Halim Qandil, and Sout al-Oma reporter Mohamed Saad Khattab, Youm7 reported.
The three media outlets have published in September and August 2014 reports claimed that al-Zend had sold a price of land, owned by the Judge’s Club, to his uncle-in-law with unreasonable price in Port Said governorate, 220 kilometer north to Cairo.
The newspaper reports said that the piece of land was sold for 18,000 EGP ($2,298.97) per a meter while another adjacent spot of land was sold for 53,000 EGP (6,769.18) per meter.
However, the investigations that were issued in since September 2014 revealed that the man who bought Judge’s Club piece of land is not a relative to al-Zend who was not at that time the club’s chairperson.
The investigations also showed the controversial piece of land locates two kilometers away from the expensive spot of land, adding that the former Judge’s Club Board of Directors in 2009 sold the piece of land to get money needed for construction of another 4,000-meter piece of land, owned by the club. The sale process was carried out in accordance with the legal procedures.
On Dec. 8, 2015, Giza Criminal court sentenced the Sout al-Omma editor-in-chief and reporter to two years in prison in absentia over publishing “false news claiming Judges’ Club members profiteered form their posts, Youm7 reported.
Egyptian Syndicate of Journalists sent on Oct. 18, 2015 warning letters to all media outlets of dealing with Sout al-Omma reporter Khattab as he “impersonating a reporter and he is not a syndicate member,” Sada al-Bald newspaper reported.
Per Syndicate’s regulations, a media outlet shall sign contracts with the journalists who work for it to be later members in the syndicate; however, dozens of reporters are working for many media outlets without contracts and they are considered as trainees.