May 21, 1998
Last night, the Cairo appeals court issued its final ruling in the case of Amr Nassef, a freelance journalist writing regularly for the independent weekly al-Osbu'. The court reduced the one-year imprisonment sentence passed by the first instance court to a three-month imprisonment sentence.
At present, Magdy Ahmad Hussein and Magdy Hilal, from the bi-weekly al-Shaab, are serving one-year prison sentences, while Gamal Fahmy, from the now banned independent weekly al-Destour, is currently serving a six- month prison term.
Despite the fact that Nassef will file another appeal at the Court of Cassation, Egypt's higher criminal court, it is expected that he will join his three colleagues in Tora prison.
CHRLA has stated several times that custodial penalties in publication offenses represent the intimidation of journalists and writers, and that imprisonment is being used to restrict the narrow margin of freedom available to the press in Egypt.
CHRLA expresses distress at the government's insistence on implementing custodial penalties in publication offenses, penalties which, for the first time in 40 years, have led to three journalists being imprisoned for what they have written. Those penalties also put the judiciary in direct confrontation with the freedom of the press.
Despite the fact that CHRLA understands that freedom of expression should also respect the rights of people and their private lives, it reaffirms that the right to corrigendum, fines, and disciplinary measures, laid down by the law, are enough to protect the rights of people.
CHRLA calls on all democratic forces to unite in the struggle to abolish all custodial penalties in publication offenses.
Press releases index Freedom of Expression index