CAIRO, Oct 7 (KUNA) — Egyptian party and independent newspapers have not been published on Sunday in protest of imprisonment sentences against five editors.
They included Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of the opposition Al-Wafd Party, and Al-Masry Al-Youm, an independent daily.
However, Al-Ahrar, the organ of the opposition Al-Ahrar (Liberal) Party, has declined to be out of publication, but enunciated emphatic opposition to the imprisonment of journalists.
The editors of 15 opposition and independent newspapers in Egypt had earlier agreed not to publish on October 7. The action is in protest to what they view as government harassment of the printed press and trail of editors.
The newspapers accuse the government of rolling back press freedoms gained in the last few years.
On September 13, an Egyptian court sentenced to imprisonment Ibrahim Issa, chief editor of Al-Dustour newspaper; Wael Al-Ibrashi of Sawt Al-Ummah; Adel Hamouda of Al-Fajr; and Abdel-Halim Qandil of Al-Karama for allegedly libeling President Hosni Mubarak and several state officials.
On September 24, another three journalists, including Anwar Al-Hawari, editor-in-chief of the opposition Al-Wafd daily, were also sentenced to two years in jail for allegedly running anti-judiciary reports.
Another court in Egypt had adjourned the trial of Al-Dustour editor Ibrahim Issa, who was accused of undermining state security by reporting rumours about the president’s health.
The trial was postponed until October 26 after his lawyer, Hafaz Abu Sada, asked for more time to prepare the defence.
Meanwhile, Safwat El-Sharif, chairman of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Press, said the government observed press freedom as a pillar of democratization.
The state policy regarding the press is controlled by the principle of respecting the freedom of expression and committing to the press freedom, he added.
El-Sharif, also chairman of the Shura (advisory) Council, upper house of Egypt’s bicameral parliament, quoted President Hosni Mubara as reiterating his respect and commitment to the freedom of the press and expression.
He added that his council would work with the Press Syndicate and government to arrive at a draft law on the freedom of information inflow, aiming to buttress and brace the press freedom.