The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters has set a date of 10 April for the first hearing in a lawsuit calling for the closure of the British Broadcast Corporation’s (BBC) office in Cairo and the withdrawal of its licence to operate in Egypt.
The lawsuit was filed by lawyer Mohamed Hamed Salem in response to a controversial BBC news report on the alleged forced disappearance and torture of opposition members by Egyptian security forces.
In his suit, Halem claims the “BBC broadcast false news with the aim of undermining the stability of Egypt and defaming Egypt’s reputation in the field of human rights”.
On 7 March, Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) handed the BBC’s Cairo bureau chief a “protest note” over the report, which was based on the reporting of BBC journlist Orla Guerin.
The report included the case of a young Egyptian woman alleged to have been “forcibly disappeared” in Egypt. The young woman, 25-year-old Zubeida Ibrahim Younis, later appeared on an Egyptian private television channel disputing claims that she had been “kidnapped by authorities” and tortured.
The BBC has come under fire since then, with the SIS calling on Egyptian officials to boycott the broadcasting company and abstain from media interviews with its journalists and producers until it has officially apologised and published the SIS’s response.