Editor-in-Chief of Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm Mohamed al-Sayed Saleh - File photo/via Al-Masry Al-Youm
CAIRO – 20 April 2018: Al-Masry Al-Youm’s former editor-in-chief, Moahmed El Sayed Saleh, was ordered to be released on LE 10,000 ($568) bail pending investigations into the newspaper’s election-related headlines.
Also, the newspaper’s eight correspondents in question were also ordered to be freed by the State Security Prosecution, which had previously summoned them, along with Saleh, for enquiry over headlines alleging that Egyptian voters were mobilized by the state to participate in the presidential vote, insinuating that the electoral process was marred by the state’s direct intervention.
The headline “The state mobilizes people on the last day of the presidential election”, highlighted on the newspaper’s front page on March 28 as part of its election coverage, was denounced as “unverified and unfactual” by the National Elections Authority (NEA).
In a phone-in with TV program Masr Al Nahrda, Saleh said that the headline was misinterpreted and misunderstood. He added that the paper mentioned the positive role that the state institutions played in getting people to go out and vote.
He added that the headline did not denote that the state was all-out intervening in favor of a certain candidate, but in calling on people to participate actively in the election, a call that President Sisi had reiterated on several occasions.
“The headline talked about the state, not the regime,” Saleh said.
Egypt's state-run Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) fined the newspaper LE 150,000 ($8,527) over its coverage, two days after the NEA submitted an official complaint against the newspaper to the SCMR.
The NEA had demanded an investigation into the newspaper’s election coverage, and so did famous lawyer Samir Sabry, who considered the headlines as an insult to Egyptians, according to his complaint.
Shortly afterwards, Saleh was dismissed from his post.
During their meeting last week, the Journalist Syndicate affirmed its support of the freedom of press and declared that it has been closely following the ongoing crises of both Al-Masry Al-Youm and the online website Masr Al-Arabiya.
The council, therefore, demanded activating Article 71 of Egypt’s Constitution, which prohibits censorship and confiscation of newspapers and media. It also called on the relevant authorities to activate the annulment of imprisonment in publishing cases.