Egyptian newspaper editor Islam Afifi was freed after a few hours in custody on Thursday, following a presidential decree scrapping preventive detention for alleged publishing crimes. It was the first time President Mohamed Morsi, who was inaugurated June 30, issued a decree with the force of law, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said, according to the official MENA news agency.
The Egyptian Press Syndicate, The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders all condemned the court's decision to hold Afifi in custody and pressed for his immediate release. The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights said his trial "runs counter to the new Egypt, which has an elected president and where there is a commitment to respect public liberties."
The authorities on August 12 ordered copies of Al-Dustour seized after complaints that they contained remarks deemed insulting to Morsi. Another prominent case is that of TV presenter Tawfiq Okasha, who was accused of suggesting the murder of Morsi during a talk show aired on the private el-Faraeen TV station earlier this month. The network was taken off the air and Okasha was banned from travel pending his trial in early September. Lawsuits have also been brought against chief editors of el-Fagr and Sawt el-Umma weeklies on similar accusations. Apart from these cases there was a lot of noise after the appointment of a number of new editors by the Shura council, the body that under the still existing constitution is responsible for these appointments. According to many a number of the new appointees were sympathizers of the Islamists or members of the Brotherhood.