A Cairo Court of Misdemeanour Cassation ruled Sunday in favor of an appeal by jailed journalist and novelist Ahmed Naji to suspend the implementation of his two-year prison sentence, pending a final verdict in a 1 January 2017 session.
Khaled Ali, a member of Naji's defence team, told Ahram Online that the court has instructed jail authorities to release Naji, while imposing a travel ban on the writer.
Naji, who is currently serving the two-year term in Tora prison in south Cairo, was sentenced in February 2016 by a misdemeanor court for publishing a “sexually flagrant article” in the state-owned cultural newspaper Akhbar Al-Adab in 2015. The article was an excerpt from Naji's novel The Guide for Using Life.
Naji was originally acquitted in January but the prosecution successfully appealed the ruling, with Naji being convicted the following month.
Since February, Naji has failed three times to halt the execution of the sentence pending appeal, only succeeding in his fourth attempt.
The initial decision to refer Naji to prosecution came after one of Akhbar Al-Adab’s readers, known as Hani Saleh Tawfik, filed a legal complaint claiming that the text in question caused him “to experience heart palpitations and an extreme feeling of sickness along with a sharp drop in blood pressure” due to the alleged indecency of the text.
The Egyptian parliament’s constitutional and legislative affairs committee rejected in December proposals by two MPs to abolish jail terms for those convicted of publishing materials that “violate public decency,” state news agency MENA reported.