Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has decided to scrap prison sentences being imposed on journalists for published articles, the head of Egypt's journalists' union said Monday.
Delivering a speech at the opening of a journalists' conference in Cairo, Galal Aref declared that the Egyptian leader had notified him of his decision in a telephone call. These comments were met by a ten-minute loud applause from journalists.
A proposed law is to be forwarded to the National Assembly later this week, Aref added.
Egyptian journalists had been campaigning for this move to protect freedom of expression. Several journalists in Egypt have been condemned to prison sentences for "defamation" in their articles. Before the presidential decision, Egypt's press operated under numerous formal restrictions, and self-censorship prevails on several sensitive topics.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )