July 25, 2024

Press Freedom


Egypt October 27, 2010

H.E. Mohammed Hosni Mubarak


Office of the President

Oruba Palace, Sharia Oruba

Heliopolis, Cairo

Arab Republic of Egypt

Fax: (011.20.2) 244.4319

Your Excellency:

The Overseas Press Club of American joins the many human rights organizations and guardians of press freedom in deploring the mounting efforts of your government to suppress freedom of the media in Egypt. As the parliamentary elections in November draw nearer, the attacks on the press seem to accelerate so that little room remains for criticism or even open discussion, which are fundamental to democratic elections.

The most notorious case, of course, is that of Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief and founder of the independent Al-Dustour. He was sacked earlier this month — the day after the newspaper was taken over by new owners who had promised not to change the editorial line of the paper. Eissa refused their request not to run an article by Mohammed El Baradai. Two days earlier, a TV program hosted by Eissa was taken off the air. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 65 cases have been filed against Eissa over the years, 30 of which remain outstanding.

In addition to Eissa’s, two other talk shows were taken off the air this month and a well-known sports commentator, Alaa Sadeq, was suspended by the information minister for accusing the interior minister of being unable to maintain order and security during a football match. The information ministry is apparently cracking down on as many as three dozen television satellite stations. The government-owned Nilesat suspended transmissions by 12 stations on October 19, on orders from the Information Ministry. Twenty other stations received warnings. In addition, Nilesat has stopped transmitting some half-dozen stations not on the Ministry of Information list — while some that are on the list, continue to transmit.

Your Excellency’s government told mass SMS distributors, including news services and political parties, that they must get an extremely expensive license. Jail sentences and stiff fines continue to be handed out for the offenses of “insult” and libel; which, in most democracies, are civil –not criminal cases. Just this week, two journalists were sentenced to a year in prison each and fines on the complaint of a film director because of the way they had filmed his wedding party.

Beyond these numerous publicized cases, there is a blanket over the media in Egypt cast by threats and innuendo that seems largely successful in muting criticism. To quote the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, “The government has gone hysterical over limiting freedom of expression.” The network says that the government evidently plans to control all media outlets before the November elections to smooth the way for the presidential elections in 2011.

Your Excellency, the suppression of free of expression will not make the election results credible. Please stop the retreat from democracy.

Respectfully yours,

Jeremy Main
Kevin McDermott

Co chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee


H.E. Sameh Shoukry

Ambassador of Egypt to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

3521 International Court, NW

Washington, DC 20008

Fax: (202) 244.5131

Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Nations

304 East 44th Street

New York, NY 10017

Fax: (212) 949.5999

H.E. Margaret Scobey

U.S. Ambassador to Egypt

Embassy of the United States of America

8 Kamal el Din Salah Street

Garden City, Cairo


Fax: (011.20.2) 797.3200

H.E. Ahmed Nazif

Prime Minister

Office of the Prime Minister

Sharia Maglis esh-sha’ab


Arab Republic of Egypt

Fax: (011.20.2) 366.8048

Gamiel Eid

Executive Director

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information


The Editor

Weekly Ahram


The Editor

Egyptian Gazette


Claude Salhani

The Middle East Times


Nahdet Misr


Daily News Egypt


Dreamt TV


Maria Otero

Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20520