CAIRO, Nov 19 (Aswat Masriya) – An Egyptian court sentenced on Saturday the head of Journalists' Syndicate and two board members to two years in prison for harbouring fugitives inside the syndicate's headquarters.
The verdict, which can still be appealed, was issued in absentia after chairman of the syndicate Yehia Qallash and board members Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abd al-Reheem refused to appear at the Qasr El-Nil Misdemeanors Court.
The syndicate's lawyer Sayed Abou Zeid told Aswat Masriya that he will appeal the verdict after the payment of EGP 10,000 bail for each defendant.
The case dates back to May when the defendants were accused of allowing journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr, wanted for inciting protests and spreading false news, to hide inside the syndicate.
The two journalists, arrested from inside the syndicate on May 1 in the wake of protests against the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation agreement, were later released on bail pending trial.
Egypt has been facing wide scale criticism over reports about crackdown on freedom of expression and press freedom.
The syndicate launched "Freedom for the Pen" campaign last month with the aim of highlighting the constant violations against journalists saying they foreshadow a “disastrous” future for press freedom in Egypt.