Two Egyptian journalists at a newspaper critical of President Mohamed Mursi were ordered on Sunday to face an expedited criminal trial for defamation.
Several journalists, talk show hosts and comedians have been charged with defamation over the last few months and activists accuse the government of using the courts to target its liberal and secular opponents.
Public Prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim - appointed by Mursi last November - ordered the trial for Magdy el-Gilad, editor in chief of el-Watan newspaper, and Alaa el-Ghatrify, its managing editor, state newspaper Al-Ahram reported.
El-Watan is fiercely critical of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that dominates the post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt.
Secularists and liberals have denounced what they call a “Brotherhoodization” of the judiciary. Mursi has said he respects the independence of the legal system and denies using the courts to suppress dissent in the media.
Earlier this month, el-Galad was charged by the prosecutor with “publishing false news that aims to disturb public peace and stir panic” after el-Watan printed the names of people that it said Islamist militants planned to assassinate.
The latest charges were for defaming the director of a local public opinion research center.
It was not clear how Sunday’s order would affect the earlier charges, but a judicial source told Reuters that a date for the trial on the earlier charges had not yet been set.
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