Last updated: 1 November, 2012

Top Egyptian Islamist faces trial in journalist case

A senior member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood faces prosecution after a television presenter filed a complaint that accused him of defaming her, a judicial source said on Thursday.

The source said the prosecution service has decided to refer Essam al-Erian, vice president of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, to a criminal court.

Jihan Mansur, a presenter with private television channel Dream, complained that Erian whom she had interviewed had hinted she was paid to criticise the Muslim Brotherhood, the source said.

The case highlights the tense climate prevailing between Islamists and most of the Egyptian media since the election in June of President Mohamed Morsi, who rose from the ranks of the Brotherhood.

Islamists have been repeatedly accused of pressuring the media through the suspension of journalists accused of “insulting” Morsi or airing information seen to be inaccurate.

The appointment of Muslim Brotherhood member Salah Abdel Maqsud Metwalli as information minister and a summer revamp of state-run media personnel has fuelled perceptions that the group intended to put pressure on the media.

In August, Morsi tried the pacify the media by signing a decree scrapping preventive detention of journalists for alleged media crimes.

This led to the freeing of Islam Afifi, editor of small independent newspaper Al-Dustur, who was accused of spreading false news and inciting disorder.

Afifi was the first journalist to go on trial since the overthrow of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak in February last year.