Egyptian Journalists Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison

Egypt has sentenced the chief of the journalists union and two of the group’s members to two years in prison for “harboring fugitives.”

The ruling was handed down Saturday against union head Yahia Qalaah and the two other journalists who were allowed to pay the $615 bail, pending an appeal.

The charges stem from a police raid earlier this year on the union’s headquarters to arrest two journalists wanted for their protests against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s decision to transfer Egyptian sovereignty over two strategic Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia.

The European Union said the the indictment of the journalists reflected “broader limitations on freedom of expression and press freedom in Egypt.”

Protesting the handover of the islands Tiran and Sanafir earlier this year, activists shouted, “The people demand the end of the regime” and “Awad sold his land.”

The latter chant is an Egyptian proverb expressing shamefulness in giving up land. For many locals, it is considered an undignified denial of identity.

The Egyptian government said Saudi Arabia had legal and historical sovereignty over the islands and Cairo was simply returning the kingdom’s own land.

Tiran and Sanafir are not only strategically located, they are also part of an Egyptian national park in the Red Sea, famous for world class scuba diving and snorkeling.

The transfer of the islands clears the way for Saudi Arabia to build a bridge linking Egypt and the kingdom by land, according to analysts.

Source: Voice of America