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Egypt hands journalists one-year suspended jail sentence

March 25, 2017

An Egypt appeals court on Saturday handed the former head of the journalists’ union and two members a suspended one-year jail sentence for “harbouring fugitives”, a judicial source said.

Yahiya Kallash, Gamal Abd el-Rahim and Khaled Elbalshy were sentenced to two years in prison in November for sheltering two journalists wanted over protests against the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. But they were released on bail and filed an appeal.

Their arrest in May last year followed a police raid on the union building to detain two reporters from an opposition website who had been accused of incitement to protest in violation of the law.

Kallash had denounced the police raid on union headquarters to arrest reporters Amr Badr and Mahmud al-Sakka, saying the government was “escalating the war against journalism and journalists”.

Activists had organised two rare protests in April last year against handing the islands to Saudi Arabia.

In January, Egypt’s top administrative court upheld a ruling voiding the government agreement on the islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

Rights activists accuse President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of running an ultra-authoritarian regime that has violently suppressed all opposition since toppling Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.