Journalists questioned by military for publishing "false information" released without bail
Sunday 19 Jun 2011
Mohamed El Hebeishy
At around 1pm on Sunday, 19 June, two hours after appearing in front of the military prosecutor, Al-Fajr editor in chief Adel Hammouda walked out of the now infamous C-28 building; where activists and journalists have been called for questioning by the military prosecutor with increasing frequency.
In an impromptu press conference in front of C-28 building, Hammouda announced that his colleague, journalist Rasha Azab was being accused of publishing false information with the potential to stir public disorder. Hammouda himself had been accused of editorial supervision allowing such news to be published.
Such allegations could lead to a prison sentence or fine for Azab and a fine of between LE5,000 and 10,000 for Hammouda.
While Azab was still being questioned, Hammouda remained confident she would be released. “There is no reason to keep her in custody. I believe she will be out today,” he said.
Within hours Azab was indeed released without bail, instantly joining protesters outside the building with the chant, “Egypt stands for freedom, not juntas or robbers.“
Today’s subpoenas came after Al-Fajr published an article detailing an earlier meeting between members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the ‘No to Military Trials’ campaigners.
In her article, Azab tackled more than 35 claims of torture and “virginity tests” conducted by members of the military establishment. The claims mainly revolved around the crackdown on the 9 March sit-in, though some incidents date back to 3 February. Azab had also voiced her concerns regarding the revolution’s achievements.
The military summonses have been criticized by the Journalists Syndicate’s Committee of Freedoms in a statement issued earlier on Saturday, 18 June.
Less than a hundred demonstrators have been rallying in front of the military prosecutor's building since early morning, protesting military rule and calling for freedom of speech. “You are not Gods. Do not expect us not to criticize you,” read one of the placards.
This is not the only example of journalists being summoned by the military in the past three weeks.
Around the end of May, blogger and Ahram Online colleague Hossam El-Hamalawy, along with TV presenter Reem Maged, both appeared in front of military prosecutor. They were not accused or even questioned, but rather asked to provide evidence of military police violations after El-Hamalawy’s statements made on Maged’s TV programme. Journalists from Alwafd newpaper have also been summoned.