An appeals court in Cairo has overturned a prison sentence for an Egyptian journalist convicted of defaming President Hosni Mubarak.

Ibrahim Eissa, the editor of the weekly newspaper al-Dustour, had been sentenced to one year in prison for criticizing Mr. Mubarak.

The appeals court overturned the jail term but substituted a fine of almost four thousand dollars.

Eissa tells the French news agency, AFP, that even a fine is a move against freedom of the press.

Eissa accused the Egyptian government of striking against the press to squelch opposition to Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Mubarak, as the president's successor. 

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says President Mubarak has failed to deliver on a promise, made three years ago, to eliminate prison penalties for journalists. 

Last week, a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria sentenced an Egyptian blogger to prison for insulting Islam and Mr. Mubarak on his blog.

The U.S. State Department criticized the conviction, saying freedom of expression is critical in a democracy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.