- After he was found guilty of libelling a colleague, an Egyptian editor of the weekly tabloid 'Al-Obsess' was slammed a six months imprisonment by the court.
The Cairo court rejected Mustafa Bark's appeal, upheld the lower court's prison sentence and set aside its fine of US$ 875.
After the judge delivered the verdict, Mr Bark was reported as saying, "I am shocked. They can take me to prison any time." He has vowed to appeal the case once more.
A court official told local press that the judge would deliver his reasons for handing down the verdict later.
The convicted editor was an independent legislator who asked his immunity to be lifted to allow the lawsuit to proceed.
He was sued by a low-ranking journalist, Talbot Hasidim, over an article published in 'Al-Obsess' two years back in which the editor accused Mr Hasidim of supporting two "corrupt" men who were former cabinet minister and newspaper editor.
Mr Bark, who is believed to be in the habit of denigrating those he regarded as opponents of Egypt, accused Mr Hasidim of financial wrongdoing. At one point, Mr Bark wrote that a leading human rights activist Sad Edina Ibrahim - who was being tried for tarnishing Egypt's image - be hanged in public square. But the activist was acquitted on appeal.
The editor and journalist from the Independent 'Al-Dustour' - known for championing for democratic reform in Egypt as well as challenged the 25-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak - were each given a year's jail for reporting a complaint that accused Mr Mubarak of misusing the government's money.
Concerned about the increasing erosion of democracy and political freedom in their region, Arab and Muslim intellectuals and activists wrote an open letter to US President George Bush to come their aid.
"We know that some in the United States, worried by Islamist gains among voters in Palestine and Egypt, are having doubts about the wisdom of pushing for freedom and democracy in the Middle East. These worries are exploited by despots in the region to perpetuate the untenable status quo," the letter read.
"However, there is no way to advance liberty without inclusion of all elements that are willing to abide by democratic rules, and reject violence," the letter concluded.
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