CONFLICTS

HRW renounces conviction of Egypt's anti-graft chief

  • FILE - In this  April 16, 2014 file photo, Hesham Genena, then head of Egypt's oversight body, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Cairo. Human Rights Watch says the dismissal by Egypt’s president of his country’s top anti-graft official and his conviction of “disseminating false news” violated free speech and set a dangerous precedent. A court convicted Genena in July 2016 over a report he issued claiming that corruption has cost the country 600 billion pounds ($67.6 billion)  He escaped going to jail by paying a fine and has appealed the verdict. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

    FILE - In this April 16, 2014 file photo, Hesham Genena, then head of Egypt's oversight body, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Cairo. Human Rights Watch says the dismissal by Egypt’s president of his country’s top anti-graft official and his conviction of “disseminating false news” violated free speech and set a dangerous precedent. A court convicted Genena in July 2016 over a report he issued claiming that corruption has cost the country 600 billion pounds ($67.6 billion) He escaped going to jail by paying a fine and has appealed the verdict. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this  April 16, 2014 file photo, Hesham Genena, then head of Egypt's oversight body, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Cairo. Human Rights Watch says the dismissal by Egypt’s president of his country’s top anti-graft official and his conviction of “disseminating false news” violated free speech and set a dangerous precedent. A court convicted Genena in July 2016 over a report he issued claiming that corruption has cost the country 600 billion pounds ($67.6 billion)  He escaped going to jail by paying a fine and has appealed the verdict. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

    FILE - In this April 16, 2014 file photo, Hesham Genena, then head of Egypt's oversight body, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Cairo. Human Rights Watch says the dismissal by Egypt’s president of his country’s top anti-graft official and his conviction of “disseminating false news” violated free speech and set a dangerous precedent. A court convicted Genena in July 2016 over a report he issued claiming that corruption has cost the country 600 billion pounds ($67.6 billion) He escaped going to jail by paying a fine and has appealed the verdict. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)  (The Associated Press)

Human Rights Watch says the dismissal by Egypt's president of the country's top anti-graft official and his subsequent conviction for "disseminating false news" violated free speech and set a dangerous precedent.

Hesham Genena was convicted last month over a report he issued claiming that corruption has cost Egypt 600 billion pounds ($67.6 billion).

A pro-government daily quoted him in December as saying the figure referred to money lost in 2015, but Genena later said he was misquoted and that it covered four years. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi fired him in March after an investigation concluded he had misled the public.

HRW's Nadim Houry says in a statement released on Tuesday that Egypt has heightened abuse of free speech "to the point of turning a misunderstanding into criminal charges punishable by prison."