Two female Egyptian journalists from al-Fagr newspaper were sentenced to one month in prison after being sued by a sheikh for “invasion of his privacy.” The two reporters, who work for the newspaper, were already acquitted and fined jointly 5,000 pounds and their Editor-in-chief, Adel Hammouda, another 5,000.
Youssef al-Badry sued the two journalists, Sally Hasan and Fatima al-Zahraa Mohamed, after they wrote an article dating back to 2009, that covered receiving a spiritual session at the sheikh’s house in excahange for 350 Egyptian pounds.
Badry saw the article as an invasion of his privacy and decided to sue the newspaper and the writers, but lost and then appealed again.
The Agouza court initially fined the writers each 5,000 Egyptian pounds and Hammouda 5,000 with no jail time.
The appeal dropped the fine and ordered a month in prison and preventing them from writing for three years, starting from Monday.
Badry is known to file lawsuits against thinkers and writers in Egypt for what they write, even if it did not involve him personally.
The decision to imprison and suspend the journalists was met with an uproar from the human rights community and freedom of press advocates over the imprisonment of journalists.
“It is unfortunate for a journalist to be punished for their doing their work and this penalty is an issue that is not cohesive with a country that housed a revolution demanding freedom,” the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said in a statement released on Monday.
“We renew our call to cancel imprisonment of journalist and take these cases out of the law,” added the freedom of expression institution.
The rights center for democracy and human rights condemned the ruling, calling the verdict a “penalty that steals away freedom from writers.”
“The codes that are organizing information sharing and journalistic work are disfigured and unfair,” the NGO wrote in a statement.
“They only add more shackles on freedom of expression and opinion in Egypt.”