File Photo: Journalists carry Yehia Kalash, head of the Egyptian press syndicate, during a protest against restrictions on the press and to demand the release of detained journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt May 4, 2016 (Reuters)
Qasr Al-Nil Misdemeanour Appeals Court postponed Saturday to 25 March issuing a verdict on an appeal by the head of Egypt’s Press Syndicate and two board members against a two-year jail sentence issued in November for harbouring fugitives inside the syndicate's headquarters.
In mid-November, a Cairo misdemeanour court sentenced the syndicate chairman Yehia Kalash and board members Gamal Abdel-Reheem and Khaled El-Balshy in absentia after they failed to appear in court.
The trio, who were accused in April 2016 of harbouring journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr, were released on bail of EGP 10,000 each and mounted appeals.
Journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr were among many wanted on arrest warrants ahead of 25 April 2016 protests against the Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea island maritime border agreement.
Badr and El-Sakka were arrested inside the Press Syndicate premises. They were later released on bail pending trial.
In an open meeting after the verdict, the syndicate decided to take all legal actions to appeal, stressing that “this verdict will not distract the syndicate from the basic issues currently facing journalists, such as the new media law and economic crises.”
After the verdict, syndicate head Kalash told journalists who had gathered in anger at the syndicate's Downtown Cairo headquarters that he was not worried about going to jail.
“I urge you to face the real problems ... such as the new press law, the social and economic rights of journalists and to focus on changing the syndicate’s bylaws,” he told the group.
Kalash also announced he would be running for a second term as head of the syndicate in elections that will take place 3 March.
Kalash, Abdel-Reheem and El-Balshy are also facing charges of spreading false news about the police raid on the syndicate's headquarters on 1 May that resulted in the arrest of the two journalists.
A court session is yet to be set for this second charge.