The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) expressed its great concern about the Attorney General’s decision to run investigations for El Badeel and El Tareeq newspapers. This was on charges of their breach of the decision to prohibit the publication in the bribery case of a counselor in the
State Council in which the businessman and chairman of the Industry and Energy Committee in Shura Council, Mohamed Farid Khamis was involved. The case is No. 474/2008 according to the investigations of State Security prosecution.
Dr. Mohamed Sayed Said,the editor-in-chief of El Badeel newspaper, said to AFTE “There is no official do*****ent submitted in which there is any mention for the prohibition of publication either from Attorney General or the Supreme Council of the Press. Therefore, I have no apparent or good reason for such decision.”
AFTE emphasizes that openness is the only procedure that guarantees neutral procedures and proper application of the law. In addition to this, article 193 of the Penal Code, which includes prohibition of the publication of news about a current criminal investigation, has been canceled in 1951 under Law No. 232. The grounds for cancellation, as reported by the explanatory note of the law, was that: Article 193 is not similar to any of the criminal legislations, and the apparent wisdom of this article, as explained in the explanatory note to Law No. 28/31 is to protect the investigation and not to embarrass the prosecutor, the alleged wisdom, where experiments showed that its application area is not to protect the investigation, and publicizing the investigations could not cause embarrassment to the investigator, but on the contrary, it would help the investigation to avoid any suspicions. However, the provisions of article 193 were quickly added to the Penal Code once again in 1957.
AFTE demands the Attorney General to consider the citizens’ right to know and to follow the news of crimes within the community and how they are handled with decisions while prohibiting the publication. Also, the association demands him to establish a reasonable balance between the freedom of publishing that the Constitution stated in Article 48 “Liberty of the press, printing, publication and mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship on newspapers shall be forbidden as well as notifying, suspending or cancelling them by administrative methods…”
The association warns that the prohibition of publication in some cases leads to promoting rumors, since the public does not know the truth, they seek intrusive curiosity. This is how rumors spread and take the public with them and change the direction of their thinking as well as the public opinion and become a real source to public order disturbance.