Crack Down On Press Freedom: Trial Awaits Egypt’s Head Of Journalists Union

The head of Egypt’s journalists union as well as two board members of the union who are being charged with spreading false news and keeping journalists who are wanted by the Egyptian government are to stand trial on Saturday.

The three had the option of bail after being questioned for hours on Sunday night. However they refused to post a bail of $1 000 each causing them to remain at the police station in central Cairo.

They had refused to post bail because they thought it unjust.

SEE ALSO: African Union’s Vision of Transparency Undermined By Press Freedom Violations

“We refused to pay because the accusations are related to publishing news and that should not involve imprisonment or bail,” said one of the board members awaiting trial, Khaled el-Balshy to The Associated Press.

Amnesty International condemned the proceedings accusing it of being a part of the Egyptian government’s plan to eradicate freedom of expression.

Last month, Yahya Qalash, the head of the journalists union sought for the Minister of Interior to step down following a police raid that saw two journalists who were being shielded in the building and wanted for instigating protests.

Press freedom in Egypt deteriorated after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi overthrew Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Not only are protesters jailed but Journalists who have opposed the current government, or sympathized with the deposed president or the Muslim brotherhood. Media houses who report on thee protests in Egypt face crime penalties. In fact, Egypt’s press freedom status is labelled, ‘not free’ by freedom house.

The president of Egypt is also looking to extend his campaign against freedom of expression into the entertainment industry.

SEE ALSO: Egypt Sentences Over 100 Protesters To 5 Years In Prison

During the inauguration of a housing project set to replace some towns which are usually portrayed as violent and crime-infested in movies, the president said:

“The claim through movies that their residents are different is inappropriate, paints a negative picture and divides society,” he said. “Those people are well bred and have morals and values … We should not allow them [the movies] and they should not be produced.”