Newspaper editor spared prison by presidential pardon
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||7 October 2008|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Newspaper editor spared prison by presidential pardon, 7 October 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48ec5d9bc.html [accessed 10 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
President Hosni Mubarak yesterday pardoned Ibrahim Issa, the editor of the opposition weekly Al-Dustour, who was sentenced to two months in prison 10 days ago for reporting rumours about the president's supposedly failing health. The government news agency MENA said the president issued the pardon "to affirm his solicitude for freedom of opinion and expression."
"This decision puts an end to an iniquitous judicial procedure that lasted more than a year and unsurprisingly concluded with Issa getting a jail sentence," Reporters Without Borders said. "We hail the president's gesture but it is not an adequate response to all the many problems that the privately-owned press face in Egypt. Mubarak cannot continue avoiding the need for legislative reform to decriminalize press offences."
Issa told Agence France-Presse he welcomed the pardon but went on to stress that Egyptian journalism today "suffers from an arsenal of laws that negate freedoms."
The two-month prison sentence was imposed by an appeal court on 28 September when upholding Issa's conviction on charges of disseminating false information liable to cause unrest and harm the country's reputation under articles 171 and 188 of the criminal code. The prosecution was brought against him following a complaint by a member of the ruling National Democratic Party. He was initially sentenced to six months in prison.
During the original trial, the prosecutor tried to prove that Al-Dustour's reporting had resulted in the withdrawal of several hundred million euros in foreign investment from the Egyptian stock exchange. Government commissions were even asked to evaluate the impact of the articles about the president's health.
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