24 February 2014

Egypt: Abuse of Reporters Reaches Military Trials: Journalists "Amr Salama" & "Islam Al-Homosi" Stand a Military Trial for Leaking Videos of Al-Sisi's Interview

press release

Cairo: — The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), today, condemned referring journalist "Amr Salama Al-Qazzaz"- one of Rassd Network's founders- along with "Islam Al-Homosi"- responsible for media marketing on social media websites- to Military Misdemeanor Court on a charge of publishing leaked videos of Field Marshal Abdel-Fatah Al-Sisi.

North Cairo Military Court yesterday, Sunday, referred the two journalists to a military court, over the misdemeanor No. 35558/2013, due to defaming the army charge. The court is scheduled, today, to consider the first hearing of their trial .

Noticeably, security forces apprehended "Amr Salama" on 12 November, 2013, and seized his own laptop, cell phone, documents and CDs that had been found in his house and car. Meanwhile, "Islam Al-Homosi" was arrested on 18 November, 2013, when he was leaving an auditorium at Faculty of Commerce, where he studies.

The investigations had lasted for nearly three months at the Military Prosecution, until a decision of the referral to Military Court has been made.

It is not the first time that Salama faces arbitrary treatment, by the authorities. In 2008, his name was deleted from the the Student Union at Faculty of Media, Sinia University; although his papers were accepted at the beginning. When he was at the Committee Overseeing Elections, Salama was asked about the reason behind that procedure, he said that he was excluded due to security interventions. Salama elaborated that he has a blog entitled "Lesa Ayesh (Still Alive).

"Referring journalists to criminal or military courts is a clear encroachment on freedom of expression and opinion. Additionally, it is a perpetuation of arbitrary procedures that have been taken, recently, by Egyptian authorities against journalists, media professionals and opinion makers, says ANHRI.

ANHRI believes that the leaked videos of Al-Sisi's interview with "Al-Masry Al-Youm" newspaper is likely malpractice, as only the journalist is responsible for that. Therefore, the journalist should bear administrative sanctions, and it is no longer a mistake or violation by Rassd Network. It, consequently, shouldn't pay the price for publishing those leaks.

The Arab Network urges the military judiciary to promptly drop all charges against journalists and to release them. It also calls on Egyptian government to suspend any form of targeting journalists and media professionals in light of their opposing writings and views; in a bid to respect the newly-drafted constitution that defends freedom of expression together with press freedom. Otherwise, it would follow in the footsteps of Mubarak's regime, which wasted the law and press freedom.

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