Egyptian Court Sentences Head of Journalists’ Union to Two Years in Jail

Fredrick Ngugi November 21, 2016
Head of Egypts journalists' union, Yahia Kallash (center) has been sentenced to two years in jail for harboring fugitives. Photo Credit: The Indian Express

An Egyptian court has sentenced the head of the country’s journalists’ union, Yahia Kallash, and two of his colleagues, Gamal Abdel Rahim and Khaled al-Balshy, to two years in jail for “harboring fugitives,” according to the BBC. The three were arrested in May when police raided the union’s headquarters in Cairo in search of two opposition journalists, Mahmoud El Sakka and Amr Badr, who hid in the building to avoid arrest warrants.

Saturday’s sentencing of the trio comes at a time when Egyptian authorities are trying to suppress rising dissent against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, according to Al Jazeera.

The three journalists can post $630 for bail, pending appeal. They were wanted for leading protests in Cairo against the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Kallash has also condemned the arrest of El Sakka and Badr, sparking mass protests from journalists. He  issued a statement two days after the protests demanding the interior minister be sacked.

Dictatorship and Media Censorship   

Since his ascent to power in August 2014, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been accused of being a dictator on many instances.

Two months after he assumed office, troops loyal to him embarked on a violent crackdown against protesters and dissidents, leaving 1,400 people dead and 16,000 detained.

As a military general, el-Sisi played a major role in the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. He then resigned from the military and announced his intention to run for the presidency, which he won with more than 93 percent of the total vote.

In November 2013, el-Sisi’s government banned all protests and arrested thousands of Egyptians. The government also removed detention limits for certain crimes, allowing unconvicted political dissidents to remain in detention indefinitely.

In March 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (an Egyptian rebel group) to death – a decision described by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, as the largest single-batch of simultaneous death sentences that the world has seen in recent years.

Since last month, Egyptian security forces have clamped down on people, including members of the media, who they suspect to be organizing protests dubbed, “Revolution of the Poor” via social networking site, Facebook.

The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Egypt among the most dangerous places to report from as a journalist.

Last Edited by:Charles Gichane Updated: June 19, 2018


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