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Chairman Kalash, board members to stand trial on Saturday: Egypt's Journalists Syndicate

The three board members, who are accused of sheltering fugitives and spreading false news, said they would appear in court on Saturday

Ahram Online , Thursday 2 Jun 2016
Abdel Rahim, El-Balshy and Qalash
From left to right : Gamal Abdel Rahim, Khaled El-Balshy and Yahia Qalash (Photo:Al-Ahram)

The board of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate confirmed Thursday that three of its leading members will appear before a misdemeanor court Saturday to face trial in the latest twist of an ongoing stand-off between the union and the interior ministry. 

Syndicate head Yehia Kalash, secretary-general Gamal Abdel-Reheem and undersecretary Khaled El-Balshy have been officially charged with sheltering fugitives - journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr - as well spreading false news about the police raid of the union's headquarters on 1 May to arrest the two journalists.

The syndicate's board, which held a meeting on Thursday, asserted its full support to Kalash, Abdel-Reheem and El-Balshy, noting that the charges against them constitute a "fierce attack" against Egyptian journalists and freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Egypt.

The syndicate added that their referral to trial is "unprecedented" in the history of Egyptian unions and syndicates.

The three board members were questioned by prosecutors earlier this week before being released on bail that was paid anonymously against their will. 

Unprecedented move 

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

Last Sunday, 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".

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