Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Egyptian Journalists Avoid Jail

One final post after taking in a great movie, 'Taken,' starring Liam Nissen. Well, the French won't like it, as the film conjures up the impression that American girls landing in Paris for summer vacations are going to be snatched by Albanians and sold for ransom, with the French police complicit in the affair, and looking the other way. But I digress.

An Egyptian appeals court on Saturday overturned prison sentences given to four editors in 2007 for defaming senior members of Egypt’s ruling party, including President Mubarak and his son, judiciary officials said.

The Cairo court still ruled that each newspaper editor must pay a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds, or almost $3,600. That is a lot better than what the lower court had done, sentencing the editors to a year in prison for publishing several articles that it thought damaged the reputations of the president and members of the governing National Democratic Party.

That decision was one of several in Egypt in recent years that have come close to putting prominent journalists behind bars on publishing offenses. While they were free pending appeal, there is no Bill of Rights in Egypt; no first amendment, and no John Peter Zenger, apparently. We have a unique set of rights in America, and we have to more than just celebrate them. We must protect them.

Perhaps the Florida Bar Rules Committee should take a refresher course on why the First Amendment is in place, and do more to protect it than they do now. The way they are coming down on individuals who criticize the judiciary, you get the feeling they can't see the forest from the trees.

You get the feeling that the Florida Bar is more concerned with protecting the person wearing the robe than the principles that very person is supposed to protect.

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