Court quashes verdict revoking newspaper's license for alleging monastery sex scandal

CAIRO, Egypt - An Egyptian court quashed an earlier verdict revoking a newspaper's license for publishing a story about a monk allegedly running a sex-and-blackmail ring in a monastery.

In July 2001, the weekly Al-Nabaa was banned after publishing a story and numerous blurred photos purportedly of an ex-monk having sex with women inside a monastery in the southern city of Assiut.

The administrative court Saturday ruled Al-Nabaa can publish again, stating that constitutional and press laws protect press freedoms and that penalties do not include revoking licenses.

In September, an Emergency State Security Court convicted Mamdouh Mahran, the paper's editor, of undermining public security and sentenced him to three years in prison.

After the article was published, the Coptic Church denied the photographs were taken in the monastery and hundreds of Copts protested in Cairo, viewing the story as an attack on their religion.

Copts comprise slightly more than 10 percent of Egypt's mostly Muslim population.