Gov’t restricts media from suggesting 2012 electoral rigging

General Prosecutor Hesham Barakat issued a gag order on all publications and broadcasts suggesting the “rigging of the 2012 presidential elections,” pending the conclusion of investigations, privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported on Tuesday.

On the front cover of its Tuesday edition, which is printed and released on Monday night, Al-Masry Al-Youm had published a teaser for an investigative report allegedly proving the rigging of the 2012 presidential elections. The report was scheduled for publication on Wednesday.

Chief editor of Al-Masry Al-Youm, Ali al-Sayed told Mada Masr that they received the gag order at 4 pm, before Wednesday’s edition went to print. The investigation was accordingly omitted and the rest of the content was printed as usual.

Head of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, Essam al-Amir also instructed all heads of sectors, TV channels and radio stations to stop discussing rigging allegations.

In June, The Presidential Election Commission rejected an appeal filed by former presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq against the results of the 2012 presidential election, which Mohamed Morsi won in the second round by a narrow margin.

Shafiq, former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister and a former Air Force general and aviation minister, filed a number of complaints alleging electoral fraud during the elections, including allegations that Coptic Christians were prevented from voting in several constituencies.

Early in October, Al-Masry Al-Youm was forced to discard 40,000 copies that had already been printed to remove the last instalment of an interview with former intelligence officer Refaat Gibrael.

The ban was based on an article in the constitution stipulating that “News, information, data and documents related to the nation’s intelligence and its activities, methods, personnel, and anything connected to its duties in maintaining the peace and security of the state and its political system is considered a state secret, stipulated in Article 85 of the Penal Code, unless published by written permission from the head of the intelligence services.”

The newspaper had published five prior instalments of its interview, which the paper’s editor Mohamed al-Sayed Saleh had conducted with Gibrael, a retired intelligence officer, a year and a half before he passed away in 2009.

Chief-editor of Al-Masry Al-Youm’s online portal, Ahmed Ragab told Mada Masr that he believed the reason the interview annoyed security services was because they weren’t asked to review it before printing.

“There is a struggle over who has the right to narrate history,” he added, “The state is trying to monopolize this right.”

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