Egypt's prosecutor-general opened an investigation on Tuesday into "high treason" claims against TV host Ahmed Moussa and parliamentarian Mostafa Bakry after a complaint was filed against them for supporting the government’s assertion that two Red Sea islands under Egyptian control are in fact Saudi.
The investigation into Moussa and Bakry was launched after lawyer Amr Abdel-Salam filed a complaint, in his capacity as a concerned citizen, saying that they "spread false information and unfounded rumours."
In April, Egypt's government decided to transfer the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, saying that they had always belonged to the Gulf Country.
However, an Egyptian court voided the deal in June, ruling that the islands belong to Egypt, a decision that has been appealed by the government.
The complaint against Moussa alleges that the controversial media figure committed a violation by voicing an opinion that contradicts the court’s June ruling on his nightly television show on Sada El-Balad TV channel.
Abdel-Salam also accused Sada El-Balad’s owner, businessman Mohamed Abul-Enein, of colluding with Moussa to influence public opinion, “spread false news” and “harm national peace and stability.”
The complaint against media figure and parliamentarian Mostafa Bakry accused him of publishing a book that "spreads false news" about the islands' ownership.
The complaint called for the maximum punishment for “treason,” the death sentence, against both figures.
The prosecution will investigate the claims and decide whether to refer the case to court or dismiss it.
Egypt’s decision to transfer the two strategic islands at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba into Saudi hands sparked widespread public outcry in the country.
Dozens of people have been arrested and put on trial for protesting the deal, though many have since been released after paying hefty fines.
The Egyptian government has repeatedly said that the islands have always belonged to Saudi Arabia and that Egypt has merely been administering them on behalf of the Saudis since the 1950s.