By Nada Nader
The Wednesday edition of El-Watan newspaper which included an investigative report on the tax-evasion of high ranking officials was censored.
The issue included a three- page investigative report about tax evasions by 13 ministries and officials in recent years, in which the presidency was listed on top.
The privately-owned Egyptian newspaper’s report said further details were requested from senior officials at the Ministry of Finance. However, reporters received the reply: “That’s not your business and don’t try to ask again.”
The report outlined the amount of money that should be paid, nearly EGP 7.9bn per year of tax evasion. The censorship came after negotiations between security officials and El-Watan that resulted in new content and a headline for Wednesday’s issue after the first edition was printed.
El-Watan had previously faced the suspension of another issue that included an investigative report about the financial disclosure and wealth of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi when he was a presidential candidate in 2014.
Two similar incidents took place last year as specific articles in private newspapers were cut from print issues.
In December 2014, the printing of Egyptian newspaper Al-Mesryoon was stopped at state-owned Al-Ahram printing press and the issue was confiscated. This came after the Egyptian authorities objected to some of the newspaper’s content.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) previously expressed deep concern over the incident, noting that “press freedom in Egypt is facing tight control and continued censorship”. It added that preventing the newspaper from being printed is a “violation” of press freedom as well as a “technique used by former dictator Hosni Mubarak to silence any form of opposition”.
In October 2014, a page from an Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper issue was censored by “governmental officials”.
The censored page should have included an interview with a former agent in the General Intelligence Directorate about special espionage operations of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.