ANHRI has found information that shows serious and flagrant violations carried out by al-Sayed Adel Abdel-Aziz, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Middle East News Agency (MENA) with the help of others. They employ and harness the efforts of the workers in favor of the presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik. They exploit work efforts in a state and tax funded governmental agency to exert moral and physical pressure on journalists and staff in favor of Shafik. These violations found out by ANHRI are a serious example of compromising professional values and convention of journalism.
ANHRI has detected several violations in MENA, including:
- As the editor-in-chief, Abdel-Aziz follows-up the publicity materials broadcast in satellite channels and published in newspapers in favor of Shafik or against his rival Mohamed Morsi. He dictates these publicities to the news editors to broadcast them in MENA’s bulletin, attributing it to the “editor-in-chief”.
- MENA extended its broadcasting period to two in the morning of June 5th to broadcast Shafik’s remarks in his interview with CBC channel. This has not happened since the revolution of January 25th. MENA resumed broadcasting later in the morning of June 5th by Shafik’s remarks and statements in the same show.
- Abdel-Aziz issued an “editorial order” on May 31st to prevent one of the most efficient reporters at MENA from supervising the news bulletin because he had broadcast the news story on the revolutionary coalitions’ call for a million man march on Friday, June 1st in demand of Shafik’s political isolation. This was an attempt to intimidate the rest of the editors-in-chief and editors of the consequences of compromise the persona of Shafik directly or indirectly.
- Ahmed Ghobashi, director of the office of the editor-in-chief, utilizes his office to publicize Shafik in cooperation with the secretaries in the editorial rooms and journalists’ offices.
- Abdel-Aziz was the primarily responsible for the infamous professional scandal when MENA declared in its bulletin that Shafik had the first place in the first round of the presidential election. Afterwards, he deleted the story off the central computer’s memory of MENA when he realized the gravity of his mistake.
ANHRI also found out that there is an ongoing coordination between a number of Shafik’s supporters and MENA’s workers, including Bassima Nafadi, mother-in-law of Shafik’s daughter. Nafadi leads this coordination to publicly publicize for voting for Shafik, especially among simple ordinary workers and administrators to intimidate them of their fate if an Islamist comes to power. She also distributes gifts and publicity publications to urge them to vote for Shafik. She transformed her room at MENA into an operation room to follow-up Shafik’s campaign, receive complaints, and advise promises made by Shafik to the workers to resolve their problems in the case of his victory in the elections.
The editor-in-chief Adel Abdel-Aziz does not hesitate to announce his hostility to the revolution of January 25th in his official and non official personal meetings. He calls the supporters of the revolution in MENA as “remnants of the revolution”. He always affirms that the military and intelligence get full credit for his well-being.
ANHRI also learned that Abdel-Aziz ridiculed on a previous occasion the Shura Council’s intention to send delegates to inspect the financial and administrative departments of MENA and said that “the Brotherhood are dreaming.. no body dares to come close to here”.
Abdel-Aziz is also on the lookout against the general promotions of MENA which have been delayed for years, so as not to let the youth get promoted to journalistic posts that would allow them greater powers. At the same time, he extends the work of Bassima Nafady at MENA despite the fact that she is over 68 years of age. This raises suspicions on complimenting her because of her kinship with Shafik and covering up the violations committed in MENA, and hence his continuance in office.
A number of journalists in MENA filed complaints to the officials of the Supreme Council of the Press, the Shura Council, the Commission of Culture and Media of the People’s Assembly, and MPs on the media bias to Shafik in MENA.
“The aforementioned violations illustrate the severe professional imbalance that is still prevalent in the institutions of state media, and that the revolution has not changed anything thus far. In cooperation with security services, interest groups are still working in these institutions and impede any attempts to professionally develop them to express the general public, rather than to defend the interests of people of influence and power,” said ANHRI.
ANHRI calls on the Shura Council and the Supreme Council of the Press to speed up the process of passing bills and decrees that would develop, reform, and restructure the state press institutions. The promotion mechanism and selections of editors-in-chief should be reviewed, so as not to become consumed by interest groups and hidden security services that remotely control those institutions.
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