The office of the presidency has said that it is “surprised” by claims that it is insular, withholds information, and is “cracking down” on journalists.
The presidency denied these claims in a statement published by the official spokesperson on Monday, saying that the accusations “are entirely incompatible with the rules and principles followed by the presidency regarding journalists”. The spokesperson added that the presidency has “the utmost respect” for journalists and is “keen to communicate with them”.
The spokesperson highlighted that“54 local journalists and 177 Arab and foreign journalists” are accredited with the presidency and “communicate with the press office on a daily basis to cover the activities of the president and the presidency in general”.
The spokesperson reported that the presidency “regretfully” denied the renewal of permits to some journalists who “did not abide by the rules governing the work of the presidency”. This was done “in order to preserve the system in place for representatives of the press and media, both domestic and foreign”.
Hanan Fekry, a member of the Press Syndicate board, said in response to the statement: “The president’s office does not cooperate with journalists. It only wants to take them to court.” She pointed to the case of Gamal Fahmy, another Press Syndicate board member. Fahmy was summoned for questioning by the prosecutor general following a complaint filed by the presidency in January which accused him of insulting the president in writing.
Fekry stressed that Fahmy is not the only journalist to face trial following a complaint from the presidency. In January Yousri Al-Badry, an Al-Masry Al-Youm journalist appeared in court accused of publishing a false story about President Mohamed Morsi.
Earlier in April Presidential Spokesperson Ehab Fahmy announced that Morsi’s legal affairs team would withdraw all complaints against journalists out of respect for freedom of expression.