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Egypt parliament passes press law, drops controversial provision

[JURIST] The parliament of Egypt [JURIST news archive] passed a new press law on Monday but removed a particularly controversial provision that would have allowed journalists to be imprisoned for reporting on alleged financial impropriety by public officials. Still, journalists and rights groups fear that other provisions threaten the freedom of the press. Although the law abolishes jail sentences for offenses such as libel, for example, it increases the maximum fines that can be imposed. For other offenses, the law allows judges to determine whether imprisonment is appropriate rather than abolishing jail sentences completely. President Hosny Mubarak [official profile, English version] promised two years ago to abolish all jail sentences for journalists [JURIST report].

Twenty-five independent and opposition newspapers in Egypt refrained from publishing on Sunday [JURIST report] to protest the lack of legal protection afforded to journalists as reflected in the press law. It was denounced by the Federation of Arab Journalists [JURIST report] and the opposition Muslim Brotherhood [party website]. Aljazeera has more.

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