The head of Egypt’s press syndicate and two board members have been arrested and charged with “publishing false news” and “harbouring” journalists wanted by authorities, officials said.
Egypt’s journalists union chief Yehia Qalash, Secretary- General Gamal Abdel-Reheem and Undersecretary Khaled El-Balshy were taken into custody yesterday.
Prosecutors referred them to trial after they were formally charged with spreading false news and harbouring
journalists wanted by authorities for allegedly inciting protests. They were earlier questioned by the prosecutors.
The three persons, who will now stand trial on Saturday, had refused to pay bail, saying their arrest was illegal as
the law does not ask for bail on the charges of ‘spreading false news’. Qalash demanded an independent judge to take over the case but the prosecution rejected his demand, according to a statement by the union.
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However, the three were later released after the bail of 10,000 Egyptian Pound (USD 1,126) was paid anonymously against their will. The union denounced the payment of the bail and called for an urgent general assembly. Many journalists also protested in front of the union in support of Qalash and the two board members.
The three leaders are facing charges of harbouring journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr, who work for the 25 January opposition news site, and spreading false news by publishing an article which said that over 40 policemen stormed the union office early this month to arrest the two journalists for spreading false news.
The move against the three persons came less than a month after Qalash called for a presidential apology over an alleged police raid seeking to arrest two journalists who had taken refuge inside the union office here.