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Egypt's chief prosecutor signals tightened censorship

EGYPT signalled tightening restrictions on free speech today as chief prosecutor Nabil Sadeq warned staff that the “forces of evil” were working to undermine national security by spreading fake news.

Mr Sadeq ordered prosecutors to monitor the media for “false news, statements or rumours” and start legal action against stories deemed harmful to national interests.

On Tuesday, Sherine Abdel-Wahab become the third singer to be jailed under censorship laws in as many months when she was sentenced to six months for having joked that it was safer to drink Evian than water from the River Nile, as it was polluted.

She was convicted of spreading false news and banned from performing by the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate for “unjustified mockery of our dear Egypt.”

Laila Amer was arrested in January for “inciting debauchery and immorality” with one of her songs, while Shaimaa Ahmed got a year in prison in December for releasing a music video deemed indecent because of the way she eats a banana.

Critics say the clampdown is linked to presidential elections due next month. Most potential opponents to President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi have withdrawn their candidacies, with one, former army chief-of-staff Sami Hafez Anan, being arrested on a charge of forging his release from military service.

The sole politician registered to run against the president, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, has been forced to deny being a “phoney candidate,” having been an active supporter of Mr Sissi’s campaign until mid-January.


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