Saturday 24 March 2018

Egypt prosecution promises action on 'false news'

Egypt prosecution promises action on 'false news'
(AFP (eng) 02/28/18)

Egypt's state prosecution said on Wednesday it would monitor media for "false" news and take "necessary" action, after the government demanded the BBC retract a report on rights abuses in the country.

The report, aired over the weekend, mentioned the case of a young woman whose mother said had been the victim of an enforced disappearance.

The woman later appeared on a local television show saying she had run away from her mother, married, and had a child.

The prosecution said in a statement its head had tasked lawyers with monitoring outlets and social media "in light of recent observed attempts to harm the security and safety of the homeland by publishing lies and false news."

He instructed them to "take the necessary measures under the criminal law" against "false statements, news and rumours that harm public safety or bring terror into the hearts of individuals."

Egypt's State Information Service, which regulates foreign media in the country, has called on the BBC to retract its story or face a government boycott.

A BBC spokesperson said that "we are aware of the reports about this BBC story on Egyptian TV and of the comments of the head of the State Information Service. We stand by the integrity of our reporting teams."

The State Information Service has repeatedly complained about media using anonymous sources.

Many journalists, however, complain that it is difficult to find sources, especially officials, who agree to be quoted by name.

An Egyptian anti-terrorism law criminalises the publication of tolls relating to militant attacks that contradict official numbers.

Egypt is currently gearing up for presidential elections on March 26-28 that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi looks certain to win.

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