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Egypt, Yemen and Morocco First among Arab States in Decline in Freedom of Expression in 2008

Extending the emergency law, canceling al-Hiwar (the dialogue) TV channel from the list of NileSat companies, the Audio-Visual Transmission and Monitoring the Internet, the prohibition of publication in the case of Suzanne Tamim, and the imprisonment sentence against Adel Hamouda, chief editor of Al-Ahrar daily, in the case of the libel and slander against Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh.

These excesses, and others, provoked public opinion in Egypt last year and pushed the International Committee to Protect Journalists to say that the freedom of expression and opinion declined in Egypt in 2008.

In addition, Egypt played a leading role to restrict the satellite transmission throughout the Arab world, said the committee's report, which monitored conditions of journalists in the world over the last year.

The report', which was announced yesterday in the Press Syndicate, emphasized that Egypt, Yemen and Morocco topped the Arab countries which saw a decline in the freedom of expression either through using the law to control the announced news or confiscating newspapers or detaining journalists.

The report reviewed the conditions of journalists in the Arab world, including Iraq where the death toll among journalists declined compared to previous years, 11 victims only compared to 32 in 2007. The report ascribed this to a decline in the sectarian violence.

Iran came sixth among the worst world countries that imprison journalists, the report said, pointing to the Iranian government's practices against the Kurdish, Azeri literature and Arabic publications.

Kamal Obeidi, the committee's adviser, said in spite of the report's importance, some Arab governments do not pay attention to it.

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