Egyptian editor to face regular court for Mubarak rumors


Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 6

Egypt's prosecutor general reversed a decision to send an outspoken tabloid newspaper editor who questioned President Hosni Mubarak's health to the country's emergency court of no appeal, a judiciary official said on Friday.

Ibrahim Eissa, editor of Al-Dustour, will instead face a regular criminal court where appeals are possible on Oct. 1, said the judicial official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He did not elaborate on the reasons why the prosecutor general reversed the decision.

On Monday, Eissa's lawyers were notified that the editor would face trial in the State Security Emergency Court -- which is known for handing down swift convictions -- on charges of disturbing the peace and harming national economic interests because of articles that his newspaper ran about rumors that Mubarak was ill.

The decision to send him to the emergency court was condemned by human rights advocates and sparked anger from journalists because it came amid a crackdown on the press.

About 15 privately owned newspapers had announced they would suspend publication on Oct. 7 in response to the government's press freedom crackdown.

There has been a flurry of lawsuits and convictions in ordinary courts against journalists in recent weeks including private suits filed against the editors of four independent tabloids -- Eissa among them -- on charges of insulting government officials.