[JURIST] An Egyptian court Thursday ordered the editor of independent newspaper al-Badeel to pay a $2,000 fine for publishing an article about labor disputes in the state-owned Middle East News Agency [media website, in Arabic]. Mohammed Sayyed was convicted of libel, and also ordered to pay $1,000 in compensation to the chief of the news agency. AP has more.
In recent months, Egypt's independent media have been the target of multiple lawsuits for reporting on sensitive issues. Last month, the former editor of weekly newspaper al-Dustour [media website, in Arabic] was sentenced to six months in prison [JURIST report] after being convicted on charges of spreading "rumors" about the health of Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak [official profile] in an August newspaper report. Last year, two journalists were convicted in absentia of libel [JURIST report] for writing a story about an illegal land transaction from the Ministry of Religious Endowments at a secret auction. Under Egyptian law, citizens may file lawsuits against individuals who make statements that harm society, and the accused can face criminal punishment if found guilty. Mubarak has previously pledged to decriminalize press offenses [JURIST report] in Egypt, but has yet to do so.