Anti-government Egyptian newspaper editor fired

Ibrahim Eissa,a known Mubarak critic, has previously been sentenced to jail for reporting on the Egyptian President's health.

October 5, 2010 10:33
1 minute read.
Illustrative photo

Man reads Arabic newspaper in J'lem. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Egypt's leading independent newspaper says its publisher has fired the daily's chief editor, known as an outspoken government critic.

The development comes amid growing uncertainty over Egypt's political future, reports of an intensifying media crackdown and constant speculation about 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak's health.

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Al-Dustour reported on its website early Tuesday that media mogul and pro-opposition publisher Elseyed el-Badawi fired the paper's editor Ibrahim Eissa. Eissa, however, claims he is still in charge of the daily' online edition. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

In 2008, Eissa was sentenced to two months in prison on charges of insulting Mubarak after he reported about the president's health. The articles, including one that said the president had lapsed into a coma, ran for several days.

"The state has been put at risk," Judge Sherif Mustafa said at the time, while reading out the court verdict details. "He reported false news about the president's health which he knew were fabricated."

Eissa, who didn't appear during that trial, denounced the ruling as politically motivated. "Is this a legal or political verdict? Is this a warning to journalists not to touch the President and not to write about anything related to him?" he said in an interview with the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network.  Mubarak eventually pardoned him.

The 44-year-old Eissa was previously sentenced to a year in prison along with three other newspaper editors in a separate case for defaming Mubarak and his ruling party.

The Al-Dustour newspaper is sharply critical of the government and often breaks political, social and religious taboos in its articles. The paper was previously closed in 1998 for seven years by the government after it published a statement by an Islamist group threatening Coptic Christian businessmen in Egypt. It reappeared on newsstands in 2005.

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