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Arrest of Egyptian news website editor for 'publishing false news'

Al-Bayan online newspaper published on Monday an article claiming that six of the general-prosecutor’s deputies were assassinated on the Cairo-Suez highway

Ahram Online , Monday 18 May 2015
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Egypt’s prosecutor-general on Monday ordered the arrest of the editor-in-chief of online news site Al-Bayan on charges of publishing false news.

The site published an article on Monday claiming that six of the prosecutor’s deputies were assassinated while travelling on the Cairo-Suez highway.

The editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Aref, is currently being questioned by prosecutors in Cairo. The Journalists Syndicate has sent a lawyer to represent him.

He faces charges of “publishing false news that might disrupt the general security, terrorise people, and harm the public interest.”

Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat, in a statement, also called on the Supreme Council of the Press to institute a code of ethics for journalists, and to stipulate penalties for journalists who publish or broadcast false news.

Publishing false news is a serious crime in Egyptian law, and offenders can be given prison sentences.

The governmental Supreme Council of the Press, founded in 1980, became the main regulatory authority for journalists since the information ministry was disbanded in June 2014.

One famous case of prosecution for publishing false news was well-known media figure Ibrahim Eissa, who published an editorial in 2007 claiming that then-president Hosni Mubarak's health was deteriorating.

Eissa received an initial one-year prison sentence, which was later reduced to two months by an appeal court.

Mubarak however issued a presidential decree pardoning Eissa before he served his sentence.

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