Egypt Independent

Court delays verdict against journalist unionists to March 25



Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanor Appellant Court on Saturday delayed the verdict on the appeal made by journalist unionists against an earlier ruling convictin them for harboring colleagues wanted by the law and spreading false news.
 
The court convened on Saturday for the trial of Journalist Syndicate Chief Yehia Qallash, Syndicate Secretary General Gamal Abdel Rahim and the head of the syndicate's freedoms committee Khaled el-Balshy.
 
Tightened security measures were imposed today morning prior to the session, including cordoning off of the courthouse building and deployment of Central Security Forces.
 
The court said it will deliver the verdict against the three unionists on March 25.
 
Qallash, Abdel Rahim and Balshy have been sentenced to two years in prison and fined LE10,000 each in November for harboring Amr Badr and Mahmoud al-Sakka.
 
Qallash, Rahim and Balshy were arrested in the wake of a stand-off between the syndicate and the Interior Ministry after the journalists Badr and Sakka took refuge in the syndicate's headquarters in late April, fearing arrest by police.
 
After police officers entered the syndicate to detain Badr and Sakka on the first of May, the syndicate's leadership made claims that the ministry had used excessive force in its 'raid' on the journalist body's headquarter building in downtown Cairo.
 
Badr and Sakka have been remanded into custody five times since April until they were finally released in late August over charges of publishing false news, inciting protests and attempting to bring down the administration of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
 
The arrests came as a part of a broader police crackdown on journalists since April 25, when mass anti-government protests had been planned in response to the transfer of two Red Sea islands from Egyptian control to that of Saudi Arabia. 
 
Protests had been building since April 8, when an agreement redrawing maritime borders was signed between Egyptian President Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz.
 
The much-debated agreement has been nullified by a top court this January.
 
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm