Gamal Abdel Rehim, editor-in-chief of Al-Gomhouria newspaper was suspended and will be investigated, according to a decision by the head of the Shura Council.
Karem Mahmoud, the secretary general of the Press Syndicate said the reason the decision was taken against Abdel Rehim was because of a news piece on Wednesday about a decision banning Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, former commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, and former Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan from travelling. The decision taken against Abdel-Rehim will have him investigated by the Supreme Council of the Press.
President Mohamed Morsy said the piece was published without any basis so changes have been made in the leadership of the newspaper and investigations will be made, according to state-run news agency MENA. He stressed the importance of respecting both former and current officials in the armed forces.
Mahmoud said that the decision to suspend and investigate with Abdel-Rehim isn’t legal. “A memo should be filed to the Press Syndicate asking the Press Syndicate to investigate. The Press Syndicate only has the right to investigate one of its members,” he said. Mahmoud said that Abdel-Rehim plans to file a law suit and when the board of the Press Syndicate meets today at six, Mahmoud himself will urge that the Press Syndicate take legal action against the decision.
Mahmoud believes that the decision signals a dangerous development for the press. This is “a very dangerous message that expresses the way that the majority party deals with the press in general,” he said. He described what is going on as, “terrorising and intimidating journalists and putting them under accusations so that the press remains under the control of one political party and… doesn’t expose facts to the public.”
He added that this move is a very clear message to heads and editors of national newspapers that suspension and investigation will be the fate of anyone who crosses the line laid for them.
The state-run Al-Gomhouria on Wednesday ran the lead headline, “The castles of corruption are teetering,” with a picture of Tantawi and Anan, and a sub headline that said that the decision to ban them from flying will soon be taken.
The Shura Council is the upper house of parliament. It appoints the editors-in-chief of all state-run newspapers, a move that is seen by many as intervention in the affairs of the newspapers. This year, the Shura Council opened up the chance for nominations for the positions for editors in chief and then it selected one of those who ran for the position.