8 October 2008


IFEX members welcomed the presidential pardon of a two-month jail sentence against Ibrahim Issa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily "Al-Dustour".

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the presidential pardon coincided with Egypt's celebration of the anniversary of a 1973 war against the state of Israel.

On 28 September, a Court of appeal in Cairo reduced a six-month jail term given to Issa in March to two months in prison for "publishing false information and rumours" about President Hosni Mubarak's health. The court said Issa's August 2007 articles were likely to disturb public security and harm the country's economy.

"The presidential pardon corrects a mistake that should have not been made," "Al-Dustour" said in a statement. "The laws that restrict press freedom should be removed permanently rather than be fixed by exceptional (cases)."

Issa's case has been taken up by rights groups in Egypt, including IFEX members the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), who have sparked numerous joint campaigns and actions demanding Issa's release.

Activists and journalists continue to campaign against the persecution of Issa and other journalists, says EOHR. Issa is currently involved in several court cases, most of them filed by members of the ruling national Democratic Party. He faces a one-year jail sentence along with three other editors of independent newspapers for "publishing false information likely to disturb public order." That trial resumes on 11 October.

Visit these links:
- ANHRI: http://www.anhri.net/en/reports/2008/pr1004.shtml- EOHR: http://en.eohr.org/- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/4sy8uz- Reporters Without Borders: http://tinyurl.com/4radhu
- "Gods don't get sick", by Issa: http://tinyurl.com/4dcs66
(8 October 2008)

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