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Journalist removed from his position after writing article that criticised the government

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ press release:

IFJ Calls on Egyptian Newspaper to Respect Editorial Independence

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned a recent decision by the Egyptian newspaper Al Gomhoria to remove journalist Hesham Basyoni from his position after he wrote an article critical of the government.

"We are extremely concerned that this is a politically motivated decision by a newspaper that claims to be independent," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "Al Gomhoria says that the government does not interfere with its editorial policy but if that is the case, they must explain why they have taken Hesham off his beat."

Basyoni investigated a story about Egyptian women working in Saudi Arabia who were abused and forced to do other types of work that they had not agreed to. When he published his article in the newspaper, which is owned by the state but is supposed to have editorial independence, the Minister of Labour and Immigration A'yash Abdelhadi expressed her desire to the editor in chief Mohamed Ibrahim that he "remove" Basyoni from his post. Ibrahim took him off of his beat immediately.

Basyoni has launched a complaint against the newspaper editor, claiming that he was replaced at the Minister's request, in clear violation of Al Gomhoria's claim of editorial independence.

Al Gomhoria is a "national newspaper", whose editor is appointed by the Shoura Assembly (upper house of the Egyptian Parliament) but which is supposed to be independent from its influence and allowed to make its own editorial decisions.

Basyoni has lodged a complaint with the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate alleging that he was repeatedly harassed by Ibrahim who changed his articles without permission and who has published news written by the Ministry of Labour and Immigration in the newspaper as regular articles. The union is investigating his complaint.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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