An appeals court upheld the two-year prison sentence and LE 20,000 fine handed down to talk show host Ahmed Moussa by a misdemeanours court in March on charges of libel and slander against Democratic Front Party head Osama al-Ghazaly Harb, according to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Local news outlets reported that the initial ruling stipulated a LE 20,000 fine, while Mada Masr previously reported the fine was LE 30,000.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Ramy Ghanem, Harb’s lawyer, said that Moussa can present a petition against the verdict, or bring the case to the Court of Cassation, which will have the final say on the matter. He added that Moussa was absent for the first hearing, which took place on May 19, resulting in the postponement of the ruling.
Ghanem also said that the verdict is not final and can be appealed further, but called upon the Interior Ministry to implement the ruling and place Moussa under arrest or force him to pay the LE 20,000 bail set by the court, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
Harb had initially filed a lawsuit against Moussa for insinuating on his talk show, “’Ala Mas‘ouleety,” that Harb provided American embassy officials with information, established the Democratic Front Party through illegitimate means and turned against the regime in hopes of being appointed chief editor of Al-Ahram.
The original lawsuit had also targeted Mohamed Aboul Enein, the owner of Sada al-Balad satellite channel, on which Moussa’s show airs. Aboul Enein was acquitted of all charges.
In a column Harb penned in Al-Ahram entitled “The Counter-Revolution,” he cited a “talk show host” as an example of the counter-revolution who recently took up the profession and whose “security connections” are well known to his viewers.
Harb referenced Moussa’s declaration that the January 25, 2011 revolution was a conspiracy carried out by a group of paid youth trained in Serbia, and his decision to host a journalist who had previously been suspended from the Journalists Syndicate to provide details about the January 25 “conspiracy.”
This is not Moussa’s first run-in with the law over statements he has made while on the air. According to state-owned Al-Ahram, a misdemeanors court sentenced Moussa last December to six months in prison with hard labor for insulting lawyer Tarek al-Awady, whom Moussa accused of being a “fugitive” and breaking into a police station last September.
Al-Ahram also reported in January of this year that former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi intended to file a legal complaint against Moussa for “spreading false news” by claiming on his show that Sabbahi was cooperating with other political figures to “overthrow the current regime.”