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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Court sentences head of Journalist Syndicate to two years in jail

Journalist Syndicate chief Yehia Qalash and two members of the Syndicate’s board were sentenced to two years in prison each for harboring wanted colleagues and spreading false news, judicial sources told Reuters. The three are free on bail of EGP 10,000 apiece as they appeal the verdict. (Background on the case is here.)

Syndicate responds: Syndicate members had raised a black banner along the building’s façade reading, “journalism is not a crime.” Journalists gathered outside the syndicate’s headquarters in downtown Cairo to protest the verdict amidst stepped-up security presence in the area. The three defendants also attended an emergency syndicate council meeting where they vowed to pay their bail and appeal what they described as a “harsh and surprising” as well as “politicized” sentence. Khaled El Balshy, one of the two board members sentenced, said that he would not stop defending freedom of speech.

Reax: The verdict has been condemned the Tunisian Journalists Syndicate and celebrated Egyptian author Alaa El Aswany, among others. Expect more to follow in the days ahead.

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