Journalist Abu Deraa handed six-month suspended sentence in Sinai

Ismailia military court handed Al-Masry Al-Youm reporter Ahmed Abu Deraa a six-month suspended sentence on Saturday, also fining him LE200 on charges of spreading false information about the army in North Sinai.

Abu Deraa was arrested weeks ago accused of slandering the army following military operations in the restive Sinai Peninsula. Military prosecutors also charged him with entering a prohibited military zone.

The Al-Masry Al-Youm reporter reported on the deaths of civilians and demolition of homes in Sinai which, he said, had been caused by army operations in North Sinai in recent months.

Abu Deraa denied the charges after the court displayed a video of a satellite channel phone-in he participated in, in which he claimed civilians had died and mosques and homes had been destroyed due to the army's Apache helicopter strikes.

The journalist's lawyer, Negab al-Boraei, demanded his acquittal. Boraei cited an army intelligence report from Arish, which stressed that Abu Deraa boasted a solid reputation in North Sinai and had always cooperated with the army.

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