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Appeals court upholds journalist's sentence

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 28 March 2011 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported that on 27 March 2011 the Agoza misdemeanours appeals court upheld a court of first instance ruling imposing a fine of LE5,000 (approx. US$840) on journalist Ahmed Hosni Wadee, of "elShorouk" newspaper. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed against the journalist by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, based on a 29 November 2009 article by Hosni Wadee published in "elShorouk" titled, "Investigation with Alwaleed bin Talal and his associates over lawsuit documentation fraud".

In late 2009, Alwaleed bin Talal filed a complaint with the Attorney General, accusing the journalist of insult and libel over the story. The court of first instance fined the journalist LE5,000. ANHRI's defense team filed an appeal and in turn the Agoza appeals court upheld the first instance ruling.

This decision against Hosni Wadee is an unacceptable decline in freedom of expression in Egypt, since the journalist did not commit any crime, ANHRI said. The journalist just reported on information that he had received about Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

ANHRI totally rejects any retreat in public freedoms - there is no turning back to before the revolution of 25 January, when millions of Egyptians called for bread and freedom. Authorities must take immediate action to ensure the protection of public freedoms in general and freedom of expression in particular, so that Egyptian journalists and media workers are less likely to be punished for their opinions.

In a separate development, ANHRI welcomed a ruling by the Maragha court in Sohag, which decided to acquit journalist Hoda Hosni Mohamed, of "Horeyti" magazine, deeming it a good start for the Egyptian revolution that must seek major reforms in freedoms, especially freedom of expression.

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