Text of press release by Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) on 12 December
HRinfo condemns the continuing wave of collective legal cases brought against journalists in Egypt, as six lawsuits for insult and defamation were brought before the Misdemeanors Court of Al-Agouza on 10 December 2007 against journalist Wael Al Ibrashi, chief editor of Sawt Al-Omma, an independent newspaper.
The lawsuits were filed by businessmen, managers of certain companies, regarding articles published in Sawt Al-Omma newspaper related to what the newspaper saw as legal transgressions committed by these companies.
Three of the lawsuits were filed by one person who is the chairman of the board for one of these companies. The hearing for these three lawsuits was postponed to 28 January 2008. Hearings for the three other lawsuits against Al Abrashy were postponed to 11 February.
Wael Al Abrashy is used to being taken to court because of the audacity of his newspaper, which is considered a free platform for fighting corruption in Egypt. In a diffe! rent case, Al Abrashy, among other chief editors, was sentenced to one year in prison in a lawsuit that will be brought to the Al Agouza Appeal Court on 26 January (for further information on previous judicial harassment of Al Abrashy.
HRinfo reiterates its condemnation and denunciation of the suppression of brave, outspoken journalists in Egypt, and of all attempts to intimidate them and to deprive them of the right to press freedom. HRinfo also emphasizes the adequacy of the right of reply and of actions in civil courts as means to address defamation concerns.
Source: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo), Cairo, in English 12 Dec 07