CAIRO: The Cairo Criminal Court ruled in favor or Moustafa Bakry, editor of Al-Osbou newspaper, sentencing Yasser Barakat, editor of Al-Mogiz independent weekly newspaper, to six months in jail and a LE 20,000 fine.
Bakry, an independent member of the People’s Assembly, had accused Barakat of defaming him in an article published on Nov. 27, 2007 titled “Bakry, the Syrian intelligence and Naguib Sawirs.
“I do not know why I was handed down this verdict, Barakat told Daily News Egypt. He reiterated that his article neither criticized nor insulted Bakry personally, but was merely an expression of his opinion on certain topics.
“Currently not even journalists accept other points of view that oppose their own, Barakat said.
According to Barakat, of the 13 lawsuits Bakry had filed against him, this is the third instance where the court rules in Bakry’s favor.
Gamal Eid, chairman of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), condemned the verdict, saying that punishing journalists violates human rights and freedom of expression.
He told Daily News Egypt that President Hosni Mubarak has yet to fulfill his 2005 campaign promise to cancel jail for “publishing offenses.
When journalists file lawsuits against one another, Eid explained, “they substitute dialogue with court orders and set a bad example.
“Many less developed countries canceled laws that allow jail sentences to be given to journalists, yet we are still adamant on keeping them, Barakat said.