Sunday,17 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1259, (20 - 26 August 2015)
Sunday,17 December, 2017
Issue 1259, (20 - 26 August 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Okasha behind bars

The owner of Al-Faraeen satellite channel Tewfik Okasha was arrested for libelling his ex-wife, reports Ahmed Morsy

Okasha behind bars
Okasha behind bars
Al-Ahram Weekly

The TV anchor and owner of Al-Faraeen satellite channel Tewfik Okasha has been under arrest since Friday in an implementation of verdicts issued against him in three different cases, according to the Interior Ministry.

The controversial figure was arrested while leaving the Media Production City complex in 6 October after he presented a morning show through Al-Faraeen, which he owns.

Al-Faraeen blacked out its screen in protest of Okasha’s arrest, transmitting a message on the weekend: “Tewfik Okasha was arrested by the interior minister without cause or charge. He is currently detained at Nasr City police station. Al-Faraeen channel holds the minister personally responsible for Okasha’s health as he is prevented from taking his medication while in detention.”

Dozens of Okasha’s supporters protested at the Nasr City Police station, where he was detained before being transferred to Tora Prison, calling for his release on Friday and Saturday. “Your detention frees the homeland,” they chanted.

Though Okasha was indicted by three court rulings, his lawyer Khaled Suleiman claimed on Friday that the charges filed against him were not clear. “I’m still attempting to learn of the specific charges levelled against my client, pending consultation with prosecutors,” Suleiman said.

The Al-Watan daily newspaper quoted Okasha’s ex-wife Reda Al-Kerdawi, who said that Okasha was arrested after a final sentence was issued, ordering his detention for six months in a libel suit that she had filed against him.

“I filed a lawsuit against Okasha after he claimed I belong to the Al-Qaeda organisation or the Islamic State (IS) group, and that I plan to murder him,” she said. Al-Kerdawi added that though she won an alimony case against Okasha, he refrains from paying her and her son Youssef the monetary amount set.

His arrest warrant was also controversial as among the verdicts there was a three-year-old sentence and another, issued in 2014. The latest court verdict against him, in 2015, he was to be fined LE10,000 for defaming his ex-wife.

The Interior Ministry stated that Okasha was sentenced to six months in jail in 2012 for squandering marital funds while in the third verdict he was handed two weeks jail in addition to a LE100 fine for beating his ex-wife in 2014.

The privately owned ONA News Agency reported that Okasha may have been arrested in light of recent critical comments posted on his Facebook account against Interior Minister Magdi Abdel-

Ghaffar. Moreover, Okasha also criticised Abdel-Ghaffar in his TV show two days prior to his arrest, when he said that a source within the Interior Ministry urged him “to leave Cairo as soon as possible since there is an intention to arrest me. Abdel-Ghaffar was appointed head of the National Security Apparatus during the era of Muslim Brotherhood and through him they aimed to get rid of me,” Okasha said.

By contrast, following his arrest, Okasha’s stance on the Interior Minister was altered. Former MP

Mustafa Bakri visited Okasha in Tora Prison and was told by Okasha that “the Brotherhood stands behind his imprisonment”. Bakri added that Okasha said, “Inform everyone that the Brotherhood conspired against me and was behind my arrest. There isn’t any problem between me and the police.”

Okasha, who earlier in 2012 was taken off the air and faced charges of insulting then-president Mohamed Morsi — but hasn’t served his sentence — has been ironically standing trial in a separate case since July, along with Morsi, activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah and other Muslim Brotherhood figures over “insulting the judiciary”.  Their next court hearing is scheduled for 1 October.

Another sentence he hasn’t served was issued in March 2012 when he was found guilty of defamation and libel when he insulted the mother of Khaled Said, whose death at the hands of Egyptian security forces sparked the 25 January Revolution.

Okasha is widely known for his controversial views, which include his staunch opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood and support of former president Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party. He called for protests against the Morsi regime, and is known for his conspiracy theories and eccentric views. Despite his support for the current government, Al-Faraeen channel was taken off air earlier this year due to financial problems. It subsequently resumed transmission.

In April, Okasha announced he was closing Al-Faraeen because “it is burdened with debts that reached LE11 million” even though the channel was broadcasting normally till the day of his arrest last weekend.

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