Al-Ahram website chief editor referred to court for 'spreading false news' regarding minister

Passant Darwish , Wednesday 6 Jan 2016

A news piece was published in 2014 by the state-owned website accused Ahmed El-Zend of using his post at the time, as the head of the Judges Club, to sell land owned by the club to his relative

Ahmed El Zend , Egypt's justice minister (Photo:Reuters)

Egypt’s Al-Ahram Arabic news website editor-in-chief Hisham Younis and journalist Ahmed Amer were referred to criminal court Wednesday for spreading false news regarding the country’s justice minister, Ahmed El-Zend.

A news piece was published on the state-owned website in 2014 accusing El-Zend of using his post at the time, as the head of the Judges Club, to sell part of the land owned by the club in Port Said governorate to his relative, which would violate applicable law.

Four other journalists from independent media outlets were also referred to criminal court for publishing the same news.

Younis told Ahram Online that El-Zend first filed his police report against the duo in August 2014 before taking the post of justice minister. A prosecutor questioned Younis and Amer, but the case was not referred to court.

Younis added that he is not surprised that the case has resurfaced and was referred to court as “ever since El-Zend was appointed minister he has been motioning cases against his person.”

Younis went on to say that he regards his referral to court as a positive thing, since “this is the first time that a government-owned news website is accused by the authorities,” adding that state media is no longer under the cloak of the authorities.

Judge El-Zend was appointed minister in May 2015. He previously occupied, since 2009, the position of head of the Judges’ Club, an unofficial but powerful club that represents over 90 percent of Egypt’s judges.

As to how he will proceed in the case, Younis said he would contact the lawyer of the Journalists’ Syndicate and Al-Ahram Institution's lawyer.

“We have a lot to say in the trial,” he added.

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