CAIRO, Nov 20 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt’s Journalists’ Syndicate condemned the conviction of three syndicate leaders on charges of harbouring fugitives, confirming they will appeal the verdict, the union said in a statement on Saturday.
An Egyptian court sentenced on Saturday head of Journalists’ Syndicate Yehia Qallash and board members Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel-Rahim to two years in prison for harbouring colleagues wanted by the law inside the syndicate’s headquarters.
The court set a bail of EGP 10,000 for each of them.
The syndicate confirmed in the statement they’d take all legal action needed to appeal the verdict, as they believe in the “validity of their legal position as well as their trust in the integrity of Egyptian judiciary.”
The statement stressed on the syndicate’s respect for the rule of law but said that the verdict is “a new episode in a series of contrived crises forced on the union for over six months without any legal logic.”
“The crisis isn’t targeting our three colleagues, it’s targeting the whole union,” the statement read.
This marks the first time in the syndicate’s 75-year history that a head of the journalists’ syndicate was put on trial, but the current crisis will not distract the syndicate from focusing on the main problems facing the journalists in the meantime, including their deteriorating social and economic conditions, according to the statement.
A meeting will be held at the syndicates’ headquarters on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the crisis and possible actions for dealing with them.
The syndicate’s statement came amid wide international condemnation against the verdict with the Committee to Protect Journalists calling on Egyptian authorities “to let the Journalists Syndicate and all members of the press do their jobs without fear of reprisal.”
This case dates back to May when the three defendants were put on trial after being accused of allowing journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr, wanted by the law 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.