Prominent Arab Screenwriter Accused of Defaming Egypt
Authorities interrogated a prominent Arab screenwriter Saturday about the script he wrote for a documentary on upcoming elections and charged him with spreading false rumors that damage national interests, reported The Associated Press.
Ali Salem denied any wrongdoing in a telephone interview with the AP and said he was released on his own recognizance.
"This is a shame because I have always defended Egypt and its civilized role, but now I am sad because I have been pushed into this situation," Salem said.
"I feel I cannot continue my role as a writer, and this makes me sad."
A judicial official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, confirmed Salem had been detained, charged and later released.
No trial date has been set, said the agency.
The judicial official said Salem was accused of harming Egypt's image and defaming the system.
Salem said the formal charge was "deliberately spreading false rumors that would undermine state security and national interests."
Salem wrote the script for the 10-minute documentary "Be a Partner and Participate," which gained attention after the detention of Saadeddin Ibrahim, a leading Egyptian-American human rights activist who commissioned the film, the AP said.
Ibrahim's lawyer, Hafez Abu Saada, has said prosecutors contend the documentary accuses the government of past vote rigging.
Those involved in the documentary, funded by the European Union, say it aims to encourage eligible voters to exercise their rights and vote. Parliamentary elections are expected in November.
Ibrahim, 61, has been jailed since June 30th, accused of tarnishing Egypt's image and questioned about taking foreign money without government permission. He has denied wrongdoing and has not yet been formally charged.
A statement by Ibrahim's family that was faxed Saturday to the AP, described Ibrahim's detention as an "unfortunate mistake," but said the family has faith in Egypt's legal system.
"Because of his love of Egypt and belief in its future, we know that our father has never engaged in activities to harm its image, either internally or abroad. The attacks on his patriotism and integrity are especially painful to us," it said.
The case has received international attention, with human rights organizations calling for Ibrahim's release and the US State Department expressing concern, according to the agency.
The US ambassador also has made appeals on Ibrahim's behalf, said the AP - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)