Egyptian rights group slams journalist conviction

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) on Wednesday condemned a court ruling that fined a journalist in a libel and defamation case, saying it was a setback for press freedom.

The rights group condemned the Dokki appeal court decision on Monday to slap Al-Dostour journalist Ahmed al-Gammal with a LE20,000 fine for defaming the chairman of Kapsi for Paints.

According to ANHRI, Gammal reported in a 27 December story on former MP al-Badri Farghaly's accusations that the company chairman did not warn workers about the potential health hazards of working with chemicals.

Gammal was merely quoting a prominent figure who expressed his opinion as a defender of labor rights, ANRI said, and Egyptian authorities should have investigated the company instead of trying the journalist and penalizing him for fulfilling his duty.

ANHRI said its lawyers will defend the journalist and challenge the ruling. It also expressed hope that justice and freedom of expression would win and the ruling would be reversed.

“We thought freedom of journalism and expression would get better after the revolution to fulfill the demands of the Egyptians who protested, calling for freedom,” said ANHRI in a statement. “But the fact is that freedom of journalism didn’t change from what it used to be under the former regime’s rule.”

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