Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 5267 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YE YM YI

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 09CAIRO284, COURT FINES INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST FOR DEFAMING CONTROVERSIAL MP REF: A. CAIRO 180 B. CAIRO 70 C. 08 CAIRO 2405 D. 08 CAIRO 2280 E. 08 CAIRO 2198 F. 08 CAIRO 2001 Classified By: ECPO Counselor Catherine Hill-Herndon per 1.4 (d).

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09CAIRO284.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO284 2009-02-17 15:03 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO4429
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0284/01 0481541
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 171541Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1652
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000284 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR NEA/ELA AND DRL/NESCA 
NSC FOR PASCUAL AND KUCHTA-HELBLING 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2029 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM EG
SUBJECT: COURT FINES INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST FOR DEFAMING CONTROVERSIAL MP REF: A. CAIRO 180 B. CAIRO 70 C. 08 CAIRO 2405 D. 08 CAIRO 2280 E. 08 CAIRO 2198 F. 08 CAIRO 2001 Classified By: ECPO Counselor Catherine Hill-Herndon per 1.4 (d).
1.(C) Summary and comment: On February 10, a court fined independent newspaper editor Yasser Barakat LE 40,000 (7,000 USD) for allegedly defaming controversial MP Mustafa Bakry in a series of 2007 and 2008 articles criticizing Bakry's GOE connections and business dealings. Human rights activists criticized the fine as harsh and commented that the court's decision continues a recent trend of fining, but not jailing, journalists in an attempt to silence the press. The GOE has been using this strategy to intimidate journalists, while aiming to avoid international criticism. The fine is lighter than many recent press case judgments, but could still be painful for a small independent paper. We do not believe the fine is heavy enough to jeopardize the newspaper's financial viability. Because Bakry is widely rumored to be a State Security confidante, the judgment has taken on a political dimension of the regime supporting "one of its own" against an independent journalist. End summary and comment.

2.(C) On February 10, Cairo Criminal Court fined Yasser Barakat, editor of the virtually unknown weekly newspaper "Al-Mogez" ("The Summary"), LE 40,000 (7,000 USD) for allegedly defaming Member of Parliament Mustafa Bakry by publishing articles critical of Bakry's relationship with the Interior Minister and the sources of the Bakry family's wealth. In addition to being an MP, Bakry is also the editor-in-chief of the colorful and controversial weekly newspaper, "Al Osboa" ("The Week"). Barakat and Bakry have been embroiled in a public feud since November 2007, using their newspapers to level accusations against each other. The reputable Beirut-based "Menassat" media website reported in June 2008 that Bakry had brought 11 different defamation suits against Barakat. A credible contact told us in September 2008 that Bakry even bankrolled a third newspaper, "Al Qahira Al-Youm" ("Cairo Today") to provide him with a second mouthpiece to disparage Barakat (ref F).

3.(C) The Arab Network for Human Rights Information issued a statement criticizing the court's fine as "an excessively harsh judgment that might affect the ability of the...newspaper to continue being published." Egyptian Organization for Human Rights Secretary-General Hafez Abu Seada described the fine as substantial relative to a journalist's salary, and characterized the decision as a continuation of the government's strategy to silence journalists by imposing heavy fines. Abu Seada said that Barakat told him after the verdict that the paper's reporting was accurate and non-inflammatory, and complained that he would face financial difficulties as a result of the fine. Abu Seada characterized the judge's decision as "political protection" for Mustafa Bakry, a known ally of the regime.

4.(C) Engi Haddad of the Arab-African Human Rights Organization also described the fine as excessive and described the court verdict as part of a government plan to bankrupt the independent press. She characterized Bakry as State Security's "man," and asserted that the judge made a political decision to strengthen Bakry, at the expense of the independent press. Haddad believed that Bakry is currently suing "six or seven" other independent journalists.

5.(C) Comment: We do not believe the LE 40,000 fine is heavy enough to jeopardize the newspaper's financial viability. The fine is lower than many recent press case judgments, but could still be painful for the editor of a small paper such as "Al Mogez." In comparison, the four independent editors were fined LE 20,000 (3,500 USD) each on January 31 for insulting senior NDP members (ref A), the Cairo News Company was fined LE 150,000 (25,000 USD) in October 2008 after it uploaded to "Al-Jazeera" video images of protestors stomping on posters of President Mubarak (ref D), and independent journalist Adel Hamouda was fined LE 80,000 (15,000 USD) for depicting the Sheikh of Al-Azhar in papal robes (ref E). The LE 40,000 fine against Barakat continues the recent pattern of fining, but not jailing, journalists in order to intimidate the press, without attracting international criticism (ref A). Because the plaintiff in the case, Mustafa Bakry, is widely rumored to be a confidante of State Security, the verdict has taken on a blatantly political dimension of the regime supporting "one CAIRO 00000284 002 OF 002 of its own" against an independent journalist. SCOBEY