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Rise in number of lawsuits filed against media professionals

(EOHR/IFEX) - 4 January 2012 - The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) condemns the recent increase in reports filed with the General Prosecutor's Office, against media professionals working for satellite channels. A recent case was filed against Yousry Foda, Rim Maged, Hala Sarhan, Khairy Ramadan, Lamis Al Hadidy, Youssef Abdel Rahman, Mahmoud Saad, Hussein Abdel Ghani and Amr Al Lithy. These media professionals are accused of creating social discord, by inviting guests onto their talk shows who allegedly incited people against the state authorities, particularly the Supreme Council for Armed Forces (SCAF) and the police. The plaintiff called for the launch of an official investigation into the 5 December 2011 episode of the "Nas Talk Show", the 17 November episode of "90 Minutes", the 6 December episode of "Akher Kalam", and the 4 December episode of "Baladna Bel Masry". The plaintiff also called for an investigation into the sources of funding of the Al Nahar and CBC satellite channels.

The above mentioned case is not the first of its kind. In 2011, a political science researcher filed a case against Al Jazeera and On TV channels, general manager Albert Shafeq, programming manager Gamal Al Shinnawy, and media professionals Yousri Foda, Rem Roshdi and Hala Sarhan. The researcher claimed that the stations fomented hatred between people and the state authorities.

EOHR considers these cases as an attempt to portray those who provide a great service to Egyptian societies as enemies of the state.

EOHR denounces such charges against media professionals and media outlets, and warns against opening the door to Hisba lawsuits, which threaten social stability and compromise ethics.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stressed the significance of freedom of expression. Media organisations transmit the viewpoints of different groups to the public in order to better identify the priorities of the state in an era of transition to democracy. EOHR and other civil society organizations intend to form a legal committee to defend media professionals and corporations against such complaints.

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