Cairo (Reuters): An Egyptian appeals court suspended a jail sentence on Saturday against the former head of the journalists ' union for harboring colleagues wanted by authorities and for spreading false news, judicial sources and a lawyer said.
Yehia Qalash and two colleagues were sentenced to two years in jail in November in a case which Amnesty International condemned as a further crackdown on freedom of expression in Egypt.
The appeals court on Saturday gave Qalash and the two board members, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim, a one-year suspended jail sentence . Prosecutors had ordered the three men face trial last May, amid efforts by Egyptian authorities to quell rising dissent against army general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Union officials said police stormed the building for the first time in the syndicate's 75-year history. The interior ministry denied that, but confirmed police had arrested the two journalists , Mahmoud El Sakka and Amr Badr.
Sakka and Badr, who are still awaiting trial, had criticized a deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia which would have transferred two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. The deal has since been blocked by a court in Cairo which ruled the islands were sovereign Egyptian territory.
In the journalists ' syndicate election earlier this month, Qalash and Balshy both failed in their bids for re-election. Abdel Rahim was re-elected as a board member.