After the release of a critical report on the Nation’s Future Party (Mostaqbal Watan), several Mada Masr journalists now face charges of defamation and false news. Mada Masr’s website is also accused of operating without a news license.
The exposé was published on August 31 as part of Mada Masr’s Wednesday edition, and remains live on their website.
It delineates the alleged corruption of several senior officials in the party, calling on their removal due to implications of malpractice. It also accuses the most prominent member, secretary-general Ashraf Rashad, of “abusing his position and increasing his personal fortune” by assisting businessmen in the development of private projects nationwide.
The report allegedly relied on four anonymous sources from the party’s governing body and central secretariat, who claimed there was an ongoing “purge” of officials implicated in other abuses.
The Nation’s Future Party denied the news in its entirety, citing Mada Masr as destabilizing “the security and stability of the country.” The party is, and continues to be, a dominant force in Egypt’s political landscape with close ties to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The party pressed charges against Mada Masr Editor-in-Chief Lina Attalah and journalists Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin, and Beesan Kassab. The four were released on bail on September 7 following interrogation at the Cairo Appeals Prosecution.
Mada Masr sources claimed that none of the four journalists had worked on the article in question, only that they had published a news bulletin containing the exposé.
Mada Masr’s legal representatives claim the journalists were “questioned individually and concurrently” regarding the supposed slander and defamation of Nation’s Future Party members. Accusations around the use of social media as a tool to harass party members and cause damage to public interest also surfaced as periphery arguments.
Additionally, Attalah faces charges of operating a news website sans license. According to Mada Masr, it has attempted to “obtain licensing under the new law regulating the press, submitting paperwork on multiple occasions, [and] making official inquiries into the status of the application.”
It claims to have received no response regarding its platform’s legal status, despite the Supreme Regulatory Council’s legal obligation to “notify the sites or entities that are refused a license or have not completed the necessary documents.”
Mada Masr continues to affirm the “integrity of its reporting and its commitment to professional journalistic standards,” considering the publication of news “in relation to the party which holds a majority in Parliament and possesses close ties to the government to be in the public interest.”
This is a developing story.
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