Egyptian TV host receives suspended sentence over privacy breach
One of Egypt's best known pro-government television personalities received a six-month suspended prison sentence on Wednesday for airing private phone calls.
Ahmed Moussa was found guilty of wiretapping and invading the caller's privacy, and ordered to pay a fine of 40,000 Egyptian Pounds ($2,222).
Mamdouh Hamza, whose leaked private calls with former military chief Sami Anan were illegally aired by Moussa during his show on the private Sada al-Balad TV channel, said he had expected the sentence to be overturned during appeal, as happened in Moussa's other cases in the past.
Moussa, a staunch supporter of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has sparked public controversy on several occasions, mainly regarding issues of libel and defamation.
He has been arrested before, received prison sentences and ordered to pay fines after several political figures filed lawsuits against him.
Hamza's private phone calls were not the first he aired on his TV show. He has previously aired calls by politicians and activists, including former MP Mostafa al-Naggar and poet Abdel Rahman Youssef.
In 2015, Moussa was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Egyptian Pounds ($1,111) in a libel case filed by politician Osama al-Ghazali Harb, whom he accused of conspiring against Egypt and receiving illegal foreign funding, but the sentence was revoked.
The press syndicate also took punitive measures against Moussa after he published intimate photos that he claimed belong to parliamentarian Khaled Youssef.
Since removing Egypt's first democratically elected president from power in 2013, Sisi has maintained tight control over the country's media. This has included the closing of TV channels, newspapers and the arrests of journalists.
Meanwhile, pro-regime TV anchors like Moussa have been elevated to the forefront of Egyptian media, allowing Sisi's regime to spout their narrative on domestic and national events.
Last year, Moussa had to deactivate his Twitter account after an improvised poll on Sisi's future in power backfired, with respondents overwhelmingly rejecting a second term for the Egyptian dictator much to his surprise.
The TV host then claimed on Facebook that his Twitter account had been hacked.Egyptian social media users, however, did not seem to buy into Moussa's claims. Many took to their keyboards to say that the anchor had run away in shame after the poll backfired, sharing screenshots of the poll before the account was deactivated.
Moussa is currently in the US to cover President Sisi's visit to Washington.