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Egypt restricts media with 'anti-terror' law

August 17, 2015

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has approved strict fines for "false" reporting of militant attacks. Critics say the new regulations will muzzle the media.

Suez Kanal Eröffnung Präsident Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Ägypten
Image: Reuters/The Egyptian Presidency

Published in the Egyptian government's official gazette late Sunday, the law sets a minimum fine of about $25,000 (22,530 euros) and a maximum of about $64,000 for anyone who strays from government statements in publishing reports.

Critics have complained about a crackdown on press freedoms and say the new law could shut down smaller media operations and deter larger ones from independently reporting on attacks and operations against insurgents.

Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to death by an Egyptian court.
Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to death by an Egyptian court.Image: picture alliance/ZUMA Press/P. Chaoyue

The insurgency, which has killed hundreds of soldiers and police, has intensified since Sissi, in his role at the time as army chief, ousted the elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in a coup following mass protests in 2013.

Sissi has since overseen a crackdown against his political rivals, with thousands of activists and Islamist supporters jailed and scores sentenced to death, including the former president and other senior figures.

The government had initially imposed jail sentences on offenders but backtracked following public outcry and media pressure. But the law does allow for offending journalists to be suspended from the profession for up to a year.

The law also makes it a capital offense to lead or finance a “terrorist group,” adding to expansive powers passed in February that allow the government to ban groups for harming national unity.

jar/bw (AFP, Reuters)