Egypt journo faces trial for 'insult'

2010-09-05 18:52

Cairo - A prominent opposition journalist is to go on trial for allegedly libelling Egypt's foreign minister in a newspaper, a judicial source said on Sunday.

Hamdi Qandeel could face prison or a fine if found guilty of the charge of "insulting and libelling a public servant or citizen performing their work," the source said.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit filed a complaint against Qandeel alleging that he insulted him in a piece he wrote in the independent daily Shorouk.

Qandeel could not be reached for comment, but the official MENA news agency reported prosecutors as saying that he did not intend to insult the minister.

Many restrictions on the independent press in Egypt have been lifted in the past decade, but media rights activists say they still face censorship and spurious libel suits.

Ibrahim Eissa, the editor of another independent daily, was sentenced to prison in 2008 for writing that President Hosni Mubarak's health was in decline. Mubarak pardoned Eissa, who did not spend any time in prison.