Egypt's Press Syndicate demands presidential apology, sacking of interior minister

Wednesday 04-05-2016 06:57 PM

An emergency general assembly meeting at the Press Syndicate, May 4, 2016. ASWAT MASRIYA

CAIRO, May 4 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's Press Syndicate demanded on Wednesday a presidential apology and called for the dismissal of the interior minister in the aftermath of a police raid on the syndicate's headquarters earlier this week.

Amid tight security conditions and under the slogan "Journalism is not a crime", the syndicate held an emergency general assembly meeting to discuss the recent raid of its headquarters by security forces on Sunday and the arrest of two journalists, Amr Badr and Mahmoud al-Saqqa, who had been sitting in at the building.

The arrest of the journalists came after police investigation implicated them in publishing false news and rumors and inciting protests through social media networks ahead of protests that had been planned for April 25. 

The police raid on the syndicate and the arrest of the two journalists angered journalists, who held a sit-in at the syndicate's headquarters and demanded the sacking of the interior minister.

The syndicate said that about 40 security personnel "stormed" the syndicate and assaulted the two people tasked with securing the building, in what they described as an "unprecedented" incident.

The interior ministry however denied storming the building or using force to arrest the two journalists. The journalists handed themselves in and all the arrest procedures took place in line with the law, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

During today's emergency meeting of the syndicate's general assembly, members of the journalists' union insisted that the interior minister be sacked and held him primarily responsible for the current "strife", according to Aswat Masriya's reporter who attended the meeting.

The journalists also agreed not to publish the interior minister's name in newspapers.

They demanded an apology from the presidency as well for the "crime of storming the syndicate."

The general assembly also called for the release of all journalists who are in jail on press-related charges and demanded the issuance of a law banning imprisonment for press-related charges.

On Tuesday, Egypt's top prosecutor issued a gagging order in the case relating to the arrest of two journalists at the storming of the syndicate's headquarters.

Journalists agreed today to blacken all pages of next Sunday's issues and to run editorials on Thursday and Friday demanding the sacking of the interior minister.

Both state-run and privately-owned papers and news websites are required to publish a logo that reads, "No to the press gag, no to restricting press freedom," according to the general assembly's decisions reached today.

The journalists also decided to call for holding a conference on Tuesday "to discuss going on strike" if their demands are not met.

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