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Egypt's press syndicate board members referred to court for 'sheltering fugitives': Sources

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Wednesday 1 Jun 2016
Journalists Syndicate board members
Yehia Kalash (L) the head of the journalists syndicate , Gamal Abdel-Reheem (C), the syndicate's secretary-general, and Khaled El-Balshy, the syndicate's undersecretary chatting in Qasr El-Nil police station after they refused to pay bail (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Three leaders of the journalists syndicate questioned by prosecutors this week will be tried in a misdemeanour court Saturday on charges of "sheltering fugitives," a judicial source told Ahram Online.

On Tuesday, syndicate head Yehia Kalash, Secretary-General Gamal Abdel-Reheem and Undersecretary Khaled El-Balshy were referred to court for harbouring journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr - who staging a sit-in to protest warrants issued for their arrest - in the syndicate's downtown Cairo headquarters.

The trio are still facing charges of spreading false news about the police raid of the union's headquarters on 1 May to arrest two journalists.

However, the judicial sources told Ahram Online that the charge of spreading false news was still under investigation.

The unprecedented move by security forces against the union last month has left the syndicate and the interior ministry at loggerheads.

On Sunday night, the union leaders underwent hours of questioning by prosecutors on the two charges levelled against them.

Shortly afterwards, prosecutors set bail at EGP 10,000, which the trio refused to pay as a form of protest against the legitimacy of the investigation and charges.

However, after their bail was paid anonymously against their will, the union leaders grudgingly agreed in the early hours of Tuesday to leave detention.

Kalash told reporters later on Tuesday that the journalists' syndicate cannot be broken, insisting that whoever bets against it will lose in the end.

On Monday, nineteen human rights organisations denounced the charges levelled against the board members, calling the government's actions against the journalists the "worst" and "most dangerous" in the history of press freedom.

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