CAIRO, Oct. 31 (Aswat Masriya) - A journalist and the editor-in-chief of a magazine run by the state-owned Akhbar Al-Youm news organisation were referred to a criminal court on Saturday for publishing and writing an article containing "obscene sexual content."
The controversial content was written by journalist and writer Ahmed Naje for a literary magazine belonging to Akhbar Al-Youm, where Naje published one of the chapters of his novel "Use of Life" last August.
Set in Cairo, the novel tells the story of Bassam, a man lost inside a "spiderweb of emotional frustration and failure." Oscillating between the present, the past and the future, it explicitly describes sexual acts.
Naje authored the novel but in an innovative twist, he also resorted to a cartoonist to illustrate some parts of the narrative.
Prosecutors said Naje published "written material containing lust," adding that he let his mind and pen be used for "malicious" purposes in "violation of the sanctity of public morals" and leading to temptation.
The chief editor Tarek al-Taher told prosecutors during questioning that he only reviewed the title of the story, without reviewing the whole text, adding that he would not have published it had he read it. He failed to meet his duty of "supervising the story," prosecutors said.
Freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Egypt have long been under scrutiny, both by local and international watchdogs.
Earlier this month, three Egyptian journalists were arrested in separate incidents within less than a week, prompting calls from international organisations like Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists to call on Egyptian authorities to release them.
Top Egyptian officials have repeatedly denied that journalists in the country are being targeted because of their work.
In August, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denied that any journalists are detained in cases related to publishing or press freedom.