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Egypt editor faces prosecution after President Mubarak health rumours

The editor of an independent Egyptian daily is to face prosecution over his paper's coverage of the state of President Hosni Mubarak's health. Recent speculation about the 79-year-old Mubarak has included his hospitalisation, travel abroad for medical treatment and even death, prompting him to make an unannounced visit to an industrial zone near his summer home on the Mediterranean coast in a bid to dispel rumours, news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has reported.

Ibrahim Eissa, whose newspaper Al-Destur was once closed by the government for five years, was convicted last year of insulting Mubarak in an article describing a lawsuit against the president. The editor, who has not been jailed pending the outcome of his appeal, has been known for his confrontational style of journalism and repeated criticism of the government since the mid-1990s.

Eissa told AFP he was shocked to receive the summons. "All the independent and state dailies have written about the subject and no one else has been summoned," he said. "This is a way of settling scores with Al-Destur and with me for all I that have written," Eissa said.

"The state security prosecutor has informed us that it has summoned Ibrahim Eissa for questioning," Gamal Fahmy, head of the journalists union, told the agency. He said judicial sources had told the syndicate that it was over rumours of Mubarak's ill-health.

On Sunday, Egypt's first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, dismissed rumours of her husband's ill health in an interview with the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news channel and called for those spreading such rumours to be held accountable. President Mubarak told the state-owned Al-Ahram daily on August 31 that the rumours were politically motivated and produced by "illegitimate movements," — an allusion to the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group in Egypt.

"Why make the president's health a military secret?" Eissa, was quoted by Reuters as saying earlier. "This proves that the regime cannot manage crises ... They do not want to bring up talk about the president's health or the succession. Such talk would bring the president down to the level of ordinary people who get ill and die. They (the rulers) believe that gods do not die," he said.

Date posted: September 3, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 383