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Published On: Sun, Jul 5th, 2015

New law in Egypt: Jail journalist for publishing figures which contradict official government statement

Egypt is being accused of making an aggressive assault on free speech on Sunday, after its cabinet drafted a law that criminalizes the reporting of terrorism statistics that contradicts those the government provides.

The Guardian summarized how “under an article in the new terrorism law presented to the president for his final approval, journalists face at least two years in jail if they publish figures that contradict those that state institutions such as the army release or the intentional publication of “false news or data about any terrorist operations that contradicts the official statements released by the relevant authorities.”

This move comes after a deadly attack by ISIS in the Sinai Desert, which left Egyptian soldiers dead. The army denied it had lost more than 17 men, and criticised foreign media outlets for reporting higher death tolls.

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

Gamal Eid, the executive director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), a Cairo-based NGO, condemned the proposal, comparing it with the actions of the Nazis.

“We are faced with an article that pushes the media towards Goebbels’ media – the media of one opinion and one narrative,” he said. “It is against the freedom of press, especially press that is critical and professional.”

Egypt’s justice minister, Ahmed el-Zind, told Agence France-Presse: “There was no choice but to impose some standards. The government has the duty to defend citizens from wrong information … I hope no one interprets this as a restriction on media freedoms. It’s just about numbers.”

There are currently at least 18 journalists in Egyptian jails, a figure the Committee to Protect Journalists said last week represented an all-time high. Three al-Jazeera journalists accused of terrorism have been released on bail, but remain on trial. Last month the Cairo correspondent for El País, the leading Spanish broadsheet, fled the country after Spanish diplomats warned that he faced arrest.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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