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Reporters without Borders has recently ranked  Egypt 143 out of 175 countries when it comes to media and press freedom.

According to local human rights organisations, at least 57 journalists from 13 newspapers were involved in 28 lawsuits in the first quarter of 2009, and an estimated 60 defamation suits were filed during 2009 against one independent daily newspaper alone.

Last week Ibrahim Issa, the editor-in-chief of one of Egypt's most popular opposition newspapers, was sacked and Orbit TV channel has been closed down - allegedly for financial reasons.

So, is there a plan or conspiracy to silence the most critical voices in Egypt ahead of next month's parliamentary elections? Is the government scared of the independent media?

Inside Story, with presenter Laura Kyle, discusses with Hisham Kassem, a publisher and human rights activist, Maged Reda Botros, a political science professor and member of the policies committee of the ruling National Democratic Party, and Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the CPJ's Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, October 11, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera