Egyptian court makes Nilesat u turn
by Sean Williams

An Egyptian court has ordered the reopening of five satellite channels carried on Nilesat, after the operator controversially axed them ahead of parliamentary elections. Al-Badr, Wesal, Sifa, Al-Rahma and Al-Hafez have been given the all-clear to continue broadcasting by the Administrative Court of the State Council.

The court also ruled that Egyptian Satellite Company, which is entrusted with granting and terminating satellite broadcast permits, had not warned the channels about the alleged breaches prior to closing the channels down. However, the court has decided to shut down Al-Nas, Al-Siha wa Al-Gamal and Al-Khaleejia for spreading "witchcraft, deception, sectarian incitement and sedition."

The original ruling had created a wave of controversy in Egypt and beyond, with Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) spokesperson Soazig Dollet exclusively telling "The closure of channels is just one of the ways the authorities want to control information.

"They have also begun controlling SMS via mobile, and we think they will also stop Ibrahim Issa (opposition weekly journalist) from publishing as an editor," added Dollet. "So there are many ways that the authority manages to control information and to attack press freedom. Itís not going to stop here, and we really have to be careful of what will occur in the coming weeks. We feel this is the start of a new phase which is really concerning."