CAIRO — The Qasr al-Nile minor offenses court in Cairo issued on Nov. 19, 2016, a nonconclusive ruling sentencing the head of Egypt's Journalists' Syndicate, Yahya Qalash, and board members Gamal Abdel-Rahim and Khaled el-Balshy, to two years of hard labor in prison on charges of “harboring fugitives from justice” in the syndicate’s building. They must further pay 10,000 Egyptian pounds (roughly $530) to stay the execution.
The ruling, which observers characterized as unprecedented, caused a stir inside and outside the syndicate. The Egyptian government was harshly criticized by organizations advocating human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. On Nov. 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement calling on the Egyptian authorities to drop charges against Qalash, Abdel-Rahim and Balshy.