Egypt’s journalists syndicate calls for amendments to draft anti-terrorism law

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The journalists syndicate has called for changes to a draft anti-terrorism law which imposes two-year jail sentences on journalists who “report false information on terrorist attacks which contradict official statements.”

Journalist Khaled El-Balshy told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that the syndicate had called for the cancellation of Article 33 of the draft law during a meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab.

The syndicate also called for amendments to four other articles of the law, El-Balshy added.

El-Balshy, undersecretary of the syndicate and head of its freedoms committee, said the syndicate would meet on Thursday with the editors of Egypt’s national newspapers to discuss the law.

The syndicate would escalate the matter if its views were not taken into consideration, he added.

Mahlab asserted during the meeting that the law did not target journalists, but rather those who wanted to harm national security.

He cited reports by “suspicious media” outlets that claimed 60-70 soldiers had been killed in last week’s militant attacks in North Sinai, when the official total was only 21.

Such false numbers targeted the morale of the soldiers, he said.

The cabinet passed the draft anti-terrorism law last week, following deadly attacks and armed clashes in North Sinai that left 121 soldiers and militants dead.

The cabinet has been working for months on new anti-terrorism laws in the wake of numerous militant attacks since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

source:Ahram online

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