Egypt Frees Islamist Journalists
Two jailed Egyptian Islamist journalists walked free from prison after a presidential amnesty pardoned offenders who had served at least half their sentences, legal sources and friends said Friday.
Magdi Hussein, chief editor of the suspended Al-Shaab newspaper, and his colleague, Salah Bedawi, were sentenced to two years in jail in August 1999 for libeling Egypt's agriculture minister.
They were released Thursday, friend and fellow journalist Salah Issa said.
Al-Shaab cartoonist Essam Hanafi, who was jailed for one year in the same case, walked free earlier this year after ending his sentence.
President Hosni Mubarak issued a decree on Tuesday, the day before the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, pardoning non-serious offenders who had served half their jail terms, legal sources said.
Al-Shaab led a passionate campaign against Agriculture Minister Yusef Wali, accusing him of abusing his power and sabotaging Egyptian agriculture in collaboration with Israeli intelligent agents.
The newspaper and the Islamist-allied Labor Party, which runs it, were both frozen in May. The party has been accused of receiving unauthorized funds and violating political parties laws by adopting a religious character.
Hussein and Bedawi were among six journalists who have been sentenced to prison for libel in Egypt since December 1998 -- CAIRO (AFP)
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