Egypt's Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek ordered senior prosecutors to monitor, investigate and take legal measures against media and social media outlets that deliberately publish false news with the aim of disturbing public security, striking fear into citizens, and harming the general interests of the state.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the country's top prosecutor explained that the order comes "in light of recently observed attempts by the 'forces of evil' to undermine the security and safety of the country through publishing lies and fake news through different media outlets and social media."
The prosecutor general ordered heads of prosecution and public attorneys to take necessary criminal proceedings against such outlets and websites, according to the statement.
Sadek also called on those bodies responsible for overseeing media and social media to honor their "professional commitment and national duty by notifying the general prosecution of any violations of media and publishing charters."
Wednesday's prosecution decision comes at a time when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was slammed by Egyptian authorities and other journalists for publishing a documentary and a report on what it alleged were cases of forced disappearances and torture carried out by Egyptian security forces.
A 25-year-old Egyptian woman whose mother alleged had been "forcibly disappeared" and"tortured", according to the extensive BBC news story published on Friday, was interviewed on Monday evening by a prominent Egyptian TV host, refuting her mother's claims.
The head of Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) Diaa Rashwan has called on Egyptian officials to boycott the BBC and abstain from media interviews with its journalists and producers until the media organization has officially apologized and published the SIS's response to its report.
On Tuesday, Egypt's National Media Authority, a regulatory body of state-owned media outlets established in 2016 by presidential decree, said that it will suspend cooperation with the BBC over the controversial report.
The decision by the authority's head, Hussein Zein, involves suspending all cooperation with the the British news service until further notice, including all protocols and agreements.