Muzzling the media: Egypt's new 'anti-terror' laws

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has signed a controversial and wide-ranging anti-terrorism bill that has far-reaching implications for journalists and the media. 

The law, which rights groups say will be used to crush dissent, will see journalists and news organisations fined a minimum of $25 000 if they publish information contradicting the government's official line. 

Critics say the steep fines will shut down small newspapers and will deter larger ones from independently reporting on attacks and operations against armed fighters.

Under the new bill, those who lead what the government considers "terrorist organisations" will receive a mandatory death sentence; special courts, which will be closed to the public, will be set up to expedite terrorism trials, and the government will expand its surveillance powers.

In a country where press freedom has long been under fire, the new law spells more trouble for anyone who veers from the government script on issues relating to national security. Even visiting a website that the government deems to be spreading "terrorist messages" can land you five years in jail.

Some would say the law is largely unnecessary with the majority of local journalists already in lock step with Sisi's government.