Egyptian TV channel explains cancellation of former top auditor interview

Monday 31 Oct 2016

The channel claims the broadcast of such material could constitute prejudice and interfere in the work of the judiciary

Hesham Genena
Hesham Genena, the head of Egypt's oversight body, holds documents at his office in Cairo. (AP)

Egypt’s satellite channel Mehwar issued an official statement on Monday to explain the cancellation of a TV interview with the former head of the country’s anti-corruption agency Hisham Geneina.

The channel said the broadcast of such material could constitute prejudice and also interfere in the work of the judiciary.

"The channel is driven by respect for the rule of law and the judiciary and understands the consequences of broadcasting any form of media content related to a case that is still undergoing judicial procedures,'' the statement read.

Geneina was set to talk about the circumstances of his ongoing trial, in addition to other issues related to his investigation into state corruption.

“The channel’s legal team decided to postpone Mehwar’s broadcast of the interview with the former head of Central Auditing Organisation until a final judicial verdict in the case is reached," the statement concluded.

Geneina’s interview with anchor Moataz El-Demerdash was scheduled to air in the second part of the 90-minute talk show on Saturday evening.

Ads promoting the show ran for three days ahead of the scheduled episode.

The decision to pull the interview has been widely discussed online and by local media, with critics blaming the cancellation on political pressure from authorities.

Geneina headed Egypt's Central Auditing Organisation, the main state corruption watchdog, from 2012 until March 2016, when he was relieved of his duties by a presidential decree.

Geneina's dismissal came after he was quoted by a local newspaper saying that the amount of funds embezzled in corruption in the country exceeded EGP 600 billion.

The general prosecution office charged that Geniena’s claims of corruption figures were inaccurate, adding that his findings included records stretching back to 2008 and not just 2015.

He was referred by prosecutors to trial on charges of making "false" claims about widespread government corruption.

In July, Geneina was sentenced to one year in prison for "spreading false news," and released on EGP 20,000 in bail pending appeal.

Geneina's own appeal against his dismissal was postponed last Tuesday due to a change of judges. The new court is set to hear defence arguments in this case on 20 December.

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